School delays and cancellations

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    School weather delays and cancellations: how do we decide?

    Making the decision to delay or cancel school due to weather conditions is not something we take lightly at Danville Community Schools. It not only impacts the schedules of our staff, parents and guardians, it involves our number one priority: student safety.

    Weather delays and cancellations can be attributed to fog, ice, snow and even temperature. During the colder months when we are most affected by low temperatures, ice and snow, our Superintendent Dr. Tracey Shafer and our Director of Transportation Mrs. Dana Parsons are up around 4 a.m. to personally drive district roads and check our school buses in the transportation lot. After consulting with Mrs. Parsons on the conditions of our fleet, Dr. Shafer also confers with our Director of Maintenance Mr. Richard Land on the conditions of school parking lots and sidewalks. Our maintenance department does the early morning treatment of our lots to provide safe travel and walkways for the start of school. Additionally, Dr. Shafer will discuss the situation with neighboring school corporation superintendents before making a decision.

    If fog, ice or snow are impacting travel conditions even in our most rural areas of the school district, we may decide to delay so fog may lift, ice may be salted or snow may be plowed. If we think these conditions won’t improve in two hours, we may decide to cancel school or use an eLearning Day.

    Since we don’t have indoor storage for our school bus fleet, ice and temperature can have an impact on our buses. Sometimes the temperatures are so low, it causes mechanical issues and we have trouble getting our buses to start. Sometimes the doors are frozen shut or the temperature inside the bus isn’t safe for our students or staff. When temperatures reach -5F, we start to see mechanical issues with our buses. Around -10F, temperatures can prevent our school buses from functioning.

    We also take into consideration the amount of time our students will be standing outside waiting on the bus. We pay close attention to the wind chill and consult a chart provided by the National Weather Service. The chart notes the wind speed and temperature along with exposure times for frostbite. When students are at risk of frostbite for a 20 to 30 minute exposure, we consider delays or cancellation. Delays, however, are only two hours long and temperature may not change drastically in such a short amount of time. In these instances, a cancellation may be more appropriate. We always encourage parents and guardians to make sure their children are properly clothed while waiting for the bus with coats, hats and gloves.

    We try to make a decision on school delays or cancellations by 5:30 a.m. Once Dr. Shafer makes the decision, our Communications Coordinator Mrs. Ashton Brellenthin begins getting the message out. She first shares it via text and email through Infinite Campus (IC) to staff, parents and guardians with an emergency message. Keeping your contact information up to date in IC will ensure that you receive these alerts first. Next, Mrs. Brellenthin will update the school website and the DCSC Facebook and Twitter accounts. Finally, she contacts local media stations to list our delay or closure on their broadcast and website.

    With the addition of eLearning Days this year, changes may be coming to our cancellation procedure. For the 2019-20 school year, we have one built in snow day on President’s Day, Feb. 17, 2020. Should we need to cancel school, we will first use this built in make-up day. After the first built in day is used, we may consider utilizing an eLearning Day so our students don’t have to add days on to the end of the year. Parents and guardians will receive this information in the cancellation email should the decision be made to utilize eLearning. On eLearning Days, assignments should be posted by 9 a.m. in Schoology. As a reminder, students will have five school days to complete eLearning Day assignments. Please contact your child’s teacher during their office hours of 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on eLearning Days if you have any questions.

    Other special considerations for delays and cancellations are in our Little Warrior Learning Center Preschool and our PACE before and after school care program. These two programs are ONLY closed when a county or state emergency has been issued and roads are closed to everyone except emergency personnel. Even if North Elementary, South Elementary, Danville Community Middle School and Danville Community High School are all delayed or closed, Little Warrior Learning Center Preschool and PACE will open at the normally scheduled time UNLESS there is a county or state emergency issued. The a.m. developmental preschool at North Elementary, however, is a program separate from the Little Warrior Learning Center Preschool and DOES NOT open during a delay or cancellation.

    School delays and cancellations are never convenient for anyone, but the safety of our students always comes first. We also understand, especially in some of the more rural parts of our district, that road conditions on personal property might vary. As a parent or guardian, you ultimately have the final decision on sending your child to school if we do not delay or cancel in these situations. If you have any questions about school delays or closures, please contact the Administration Office at 317-745-2212.