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Inclement Weather - To Close or Not to Close

To Close or Not to Close

Susette Bollard, Superintendent of Schools

 

I can’t believe that CVSU has already had two days when school has been closed and sincerely hope we are not going to have a similar winter to last year.  Having the responsibility of deciding whether or not to hold school is one of those responsibilities that NOBODY wants, including me, but it comes with the job and I thought you might want to know how I come to the decision to hold, delay or close school when the weather is not cooperating.

In most cases it begins at around 4:45AM.  I check the list of school closing/delays compiled by the Vermont Broadcaster’s Association and published on WCAX to see if anyone made a decision the night before.  I call Bill Kirby, Facilities Director for the Northfield Schools, and we discuss any NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration) alerts and their radar that is available online.  Bill then calls road crews across the supervisory union to get a report on our area’s road conditions and any recommendations they might have. He might also check in with the bus company.  In the meantime, I join an email thread that includes all of the area superintendents to see what their road crews and weather resources are reporting and check in with a couple of employees who I know are on the road by 5AM.   The goal is to make a decision by 5:30AM so I spend the rest of the time circling back to all my resources, trying to get the best picture of not only what the weather and road conditions are at 5:30AM but also what they will be at 6:45AM when buses start their routes.  With more about 180 miles of dirt roads and about a 1200 foot difference between the lowest and highest points in the supervisory union (which accounts for the variance in weather conditions in different parts of the towns) the final decision is not always easy but I make what I believe are the best decisions I can considering the conditions and circumstances of the moment. Once the decision to delay opening or to close schools is made, a message is sent to our families and staff via Blackboard Connect and local radio and TV stations are notified.   When the weather requires the decision to be revisited, the process is identical and again, I make what I believe to be the best decision I can considering the conditions,  circumstances and information I have. The process for early dismissal is similar but also includes making certain students have lunch before being returned home.

I know that not everyone agrees with my decisions regarding schools being open, delayed or closed, but I do want you to know that our students' safety is always at the heart of the decision. If you ever feel that my decision is in conflict with the condition of the roads where you live and you do not feel it is safe for your student to travel, please call your school and let them know.  Students staying home under these circumstances will have excused absences.