September 7, 2018
Hello to the Seymour Public School Community,
As a result of the recent extreme heat as well as with the winter season approaching, I feel like now is a good time to share with you how some of these decisions are made. I first want to reiterate that your children’s safety is always our number one priority. While you may choose to agree or to disagree as to whether or not we have an early dismissal or have to close school, please realize that all decisions revolve around the safety of your children. I recognize and understand as a father myself, that our decision to dismiss early or to open or close schools in inclement weather has a direct impact on our families within the community. While we also realize that our students are better served - both academically and socially - by being in school, this is not always possible due to Mother Nature.
HOW IS THE DECISION MADE?
This decision is taken very seriously and requires a lot of time and analysis. Please understand that we make the decision to dismiss early, open or close the schools in inclement weather based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:
· The heat index as it relates to both heat and humidity. Typically when the heat index reaches an extreme number is when the decision to dismiss early or to close is rendered.
· Building conditions (such as overall building temperatures as they pertain to all seasons and the condition of parking lots and sidewalks)
· Several weather maps are researched and analyzed from the night before and continuing on into early in the morning.
· The amount of precipitation that either has or is predicted to fall. We prefer not make our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate. But sometimes this is unavoidable.
· The Director of Public Works is contacted as well as the Director of the bus company in order to obtain information on road conditions as well as on the conditions of our student drop off and pick up areas and our parking lots. We must give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads in the district. Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be dangerous. Also, we must also consider that some of our students drive to school.
· Temperature and wind chill. Please remember that some of our students walk to school and some must wait outside for the bus.
· The Superintendent is in constant communication with other local districts in order to see what position they are taking. However, all of our district decisions are based on the roads and weather conditions in Seymour.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
As Superintendent of Schools, I am responsible for the final decision. But once again, please be reminded, that a team of people are contacted (such as the Director of Public Works and the Director of the bus company) prior to making any final decisions that impact the closing of schools.
HOW DO WE NOTIFY OUR FAMILIES?
All decisions are sent out via phone, email, website, our Facebook page, and various news outlets such as Fox61, WTNH, and WFSB.
Inclement Weather -2- September 7, 2018
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
When bad weather is predicted, I rise very early in the morning to assess the situation. I try to make the decision as early as I can in order to have our families plan for student care. If I can responsibly make the decision the evening before, that is what I will always try to do, however as you are aware, the weather is always unpredictable. In most cases, the final decision is rendered at 5:30 am or earlier. This gives us the time needed to post the information on our website, our Facebook page, various news outlets, the phone system, and emails.
ARE THERE TIMES WHEN WE WILL CLOSE SCHOOL IF CONDITIONS WORSEN?
Keep in mind that, even if weather conditions worsen, we cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering students. Once we make the decision to open the schools, many parents rely on it and leave for work. If we then send students right back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty houses. If conditions get worse during the school day, we may need to have any early dismissal, but we will give adequate notice to all parents first.
Please realize that while my team and I try to do our absolute best in this process, we know that often no perfect decision exists. In the event that based on current weather conditions, you do not feel safe enough sending your child to school, we recognize that it is your right as a parent to keep your child home, however, you must remember to call your child out of school for that day in order for us to maintain proper attendance records. Also, discourage your teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.
It is my hope that this new insight into the process helps everyone to better understand what goes into the decisions made around inclement weather.
With great pride,
Superintendent of Schools