How Schools Decide To Close During Weather Events - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

How Schools Decide To Close During Weather Events

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Updated 10:00 PM

When there is potential for even a little bit of snow, the first thing on kids' minds is "Will there be school tomorrow?" But more than just a little snow is needed to cancel school.

When you're retired.

School bus driver, John Blazek, says, "It's the greatest thing I've ever done."

And your kids are all grown.

"I get very close with them," says Blazek.

Your time filler job can be come your life.

"Where ever I go, one of them always comes up "hi John! How are you?", says Blazek.

So keeping all these kids safe is a high priority for Blazek and the West Fargo School District during winter when snow, ice and blinding blizzards get in the way.

Blazek says, "You go the windows fogging up, it's cold and there's all kinds of things going on."

"Safety of our students above everything else. It's safety of students," says West Fargo Assistant Superintendent Louise Dardis.

But before the kids even get on the bus, they have to make sure conditions are safe.

"We look at several factors," says Dardis.

So what is the first thing that goes into the decision whether to cancel school? At West Fargo, they wake up bright and early and check the current weather conditions. Other factors are road conditions, when the storm will start how long it will last, storm severity and the temp and wind chill. A person will even go out and drive around to test the roads.

"This is fun. This isn't enough to stop us," says Blazek.

But you have to hand it to these bus drivers. On top of the tough conditions, all these seats are filled with energetic kids.

"You have a high barometric pressure that impacts kids behavior. They get antsy," says Dardis.

And no matter how rowdy kids will get, it's not a matter of giving them a day off, because if you take too many snow days, they just get tacked on at the end of the year. Snow days are meant to keep them safe.

"You got to get them to school, that's the challenge. Safely. There and back safely," says Blazek.

West Fargo Schools go by Century Code, which is a state regulated system of rules. Most schools will judge snow days on similar criteria. Here is West Fargo's: 

What Factors Are Considered When Making The Decision To Close Schools?

The decision to have or not have school due to inclement weather will be based on the safety of the students attending the district's schools. The decision whether or not to close school will be based on the best information available. Parents may choose to pick up their child at school or not to send them to school anytime they feel that the weather is a threat to their child's safety.

In deciding whether children will be safe, we look at the following factors:

- Visibility and current/expected wind conditions

- Road conditions (current, anticipated, and the status of city and county road crews)

- The time precipitation starts and the current/expected amount

- Expected duration of the storm

- Alert level from National Weather Service

- Temperature and wind-chill

The superintendent and many other school administrators carefully watch weather conditions.

The superintendent makes every effort to remain completely informed, using contact with the National Weather Service, personal observation, telephone contact with individuals living in the rural areas of the district, law enforcement agencies, and city/county/state road maintenance personnel. Road conditions and visibility on bus routes are tested beginning as early as 4:00 am.

Who Makes The Decision To Close Schools?

The superintendent of schools makes the decision based on the above factors and input from others. Phone: (701) 356-2000 Website: www.west-fargo.k12.nd.us Fax: (701) 356-2009

When Is The Decision Made To Close Schools?

On rare occasions, the decision will be made the night before by 9:30 pm, which allows sufficient time to notify the local media before the 10:00 pm news. Most often, the decision is made no later than 6:30 am. A delay or cancellation after 6:30 am is possible, but because buses must be enroute by 7:00 am, later decision-making is undesirable.

What If A Storm Develops During The Day?

This is usually the most difficult decision for the superintendent to make. Consideration must be given to the desirability of sending students, particularly very young students, home to an empty house. While we have dismissed school early and sent buses out early in the past and will likely do so sometime in the future, please understand that we are also concerned about the safety of your children if you are not home or find it impossible to get home.

Students living within reasonable walking distance will be dismissed to walk home only at the discretion of the principal. Questionable cases will be handled with a telephone call between parent(s) and the building principal.

At times, students in kindergarten through grade eight may be kept at school until their parents or other designated adults come to pick them up. In cases of very severe weather, high school students could also be required to stay until individual arrangements have been made with parents. It is appropriate for you or another authorized adult to pick up your children at school when weather conditions have gotten progressively worse during the day. Please be assured that your children will be safe and well cared for in the event that it is not safe for you to come to pick them up.


Where Do They Get Their Information?


When there is potential for even a bit of snow, the first thing on kids' minds is if school will be canceled. There are a number of factors that go into deciding to close schools down for a day. Here are some factors that go into the decision:

- Visibility and current/expected wind conditions

- Road conditions (current, anticipated, and the status of city and county road crews)

- The time precipitation starts and the current/expected amount

- Expected duration of the storm

- Alert level from National Weather Service

- Temperature and wind-chill

Who Is Watching The Weather?

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