School Closing Process and Criteria
Many families ask about the criteria for weather-related closings. The following information is provided to help answer those questions.
The foremost factor in the decision to cancel school is student safety. Superintendent Shaner consults with Grounds and Maintenance, Transportation, the National Weather Service and other area superintendents. In the case of an early morning closing, District personnel drive throughout the District at 3 a.m. - 4:00 a.m. to access road conditions. Please keep in mind that the District is 66 square miles, and has many subdivisions north of Dutton with only dirt roads. These subdivisions send children to eight of our twenty-one schools. If road conditions are such that the District determines driving would be hazardous for buses and student or parent drivers, the District will be closed. The District would also close school if temperatures were deemed to be dangerous for student walkers. That threshold is reached when the wind chill factor is at -25 degrees or colder. The District uses weather information from WDIV at the following link: http://detroit.justweather.com/
One of the alternatives to closing for the entire day is a two-hour delay. This option has both positive and negative aspects. On the plus side, students would not miss a whole day of school. On the negative side, parents often drop their children off at the school at the regular start time, thinking that someone will be available to look after them until school starts. Another drawback is the circumstance where conditions have not improved in the two-hour period and the District has to cancel the entire day anyway. However, if it appeared that a two-hour delay would provide an opportunity to get students to school safely, the District would consider this option.
Another alternative to closing school for the entire day would be to offer bus pick-up at main roads only. This too has both positives and negatives. If buses do not have to travel icy or snow covered back roads, they are less likely to encounter dangerous conditions. However, students may have to walk further along snow covered roads, where there may or may not be bike paths. Student drivers and parents may be forced to drive on roads that are considered too dangerous for buses. Both factors need to be taken into consideration. At the present time, the District has not determined main road only pick up locations.
Some parents have also suggested keeping school open but not providing transportation if roads are treacherous. This option would create a disproportionate attendance issue for those students who rely on bus service due to a variety of family circumstances and does not seem like an equitable solution.
The State of Michigan allows us a 30 hours grace period, which can be used when the building cannot be opened for various reasons (weather, power outages, water, etc.). This equates to approximately five days.
The school district understands that for many parents, the cancellation of school causes scheduling and work problems. At the same time, transporting students safely to and from school is our priority as well as yours. Our decisions will keep student safety at the forefront.