Posted: Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday’s Delayed School Start Time

Tuesday morning was not your typical school closing/delay scenario. There was no snow/ice forecast that would impact travel, while temperatures were expected to be at their lowest in decades. In making a decision, student safety, as always, was our primary concern especially for bus riders who would have to wait in frigid conditions. Also, since there were no hazardous road conditions, tens of thousands of parents would be expected to be at work at their regular time resulting in many children being at home alone if we implemented our normal delay procedure for schools to receive students at a later time. This unique weather situation required a unique solution: a three-hour delay combined with the opening of school buildings at their regular times to receive car riders and walkers.

Students who rode the bus were able to wait for pickup in sunny and improving weather conditions and did not miss regular classroom instruction which began at the delayed start time. Parents, including our own employees, were able to report to work at their regular time and were assured that their children would be supervised, have breakfast, and participate in enrichment activities until the official school day began.

There were issues this morning that we were able to address with the benefit of the delayed start. Thirty-four buses (double the norm) did not start when checked early this morning. However, all bus routes were covered due to District transportation employees and State mechanics reporting early to work to make repairs. Our preparation for the extreme cold also included checking all school buildings early this morning to ensure no major issues. HVAC systems ran at the occupied mode on Monday night/Tuesday morning to provide a warm welcome for students and staff. We had several water pipes freeze and leak in a few of our 100 schools. Repairs have been made and we will next consider long-term solutions for those isolated issues.

School closing/delay decisions are complex and we try our best to meet the various challenges caused by inclement weather. This morning’s decision for a three-hour delay was made after thorough review of multiple issues and challenges. Is this option going to be our norm? No, again Tuesday was a unique situation requiring a unique solution.

We recognize that there is no perfect school closing/delay decision that meets everyone’s needs. However, you can be assured that our decisions are made with much thought and review and are always focused on the safety and needs of our students, parents, and staff. For details about our comprehensive decision-making process, please click here to see the overview.

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