Parents of West Fargo Public School students,
We know that it is important to review our district's inclement weather procedures on a regular basis. Every year around this time, we send this letter and hope that the contents, formatted as a Q&A, prove useful to you as you prepare your family for the winter ahead.
Who Is Watching The Weather?
The superintendent and many other school administrators carefully watch weather conditions.
What Factors Are Considered When Making Weather-Related Decisions?
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 and on the best information available at the time the decision must be made. Parents may choose to pick their child up 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) for buses, families and district staff that need to be on the roads
- The time precipitation starts and the current/expected amount
- Expected duration of the storm
- Alert level from National Weather Service
- Temperature and wind-chill
Where Does the District Get Its Information?
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.
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.
How is the Type of Closure Decided Upon?
When the weather and road conditions make it difficult for the majority of our students and staff to arrive by regular start times, but conditions indicate that arrival at school later in the day is feasible, the district will call a LATE START. The late start response is rarely used, but is the appropriate choice when travel in the early morning is hazardous, but conditions are expected to improve later in the day. A late start is typically done in 60-minute increments (1, 2, or 3 hours late). Please note that this delay applies to both the start of school for the day and the bus schedule. There may be instances when certain bus routes cannot run even with a delay in start time (often due to the more serious weather conditions that occur in the rural parts of our district). If your child's bus route will not run, the Transportation Department will communicate with you via Blackboard Connect-5 phone and/or email messaging.
When the weather and road conditions allow the majority of our students and staff to make it to school by regular start times, but the conditions are expected to deteriorate throughout the day, the district will call an EARLY RELEASE. Calling for an early release is often the most difficult weather-related decision for a superintendent; consideration must be given to the desirability of sending students, particularly students at the primary grades, home to an empty house. Please note that the early release applies to both the end of the school day and the bus schedule. There may be instances when certain bus routes cannot run (often due to the more serious weather conditions that occur in the rural parts of our district). If your child's bus route will not run, the Transportation Department will communicate with you via Blackboard Connect-5 phone and/or email messaging. 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 phone conversation between the parents/guardians and the school office. When the district chooses to release students early, all after-school and evening activities are automatically cancelled as well.
When the weather and road conditions make it difficult for the majority of our students and staff to arrive by regular start times and the conditions are expected to remain the same or deteriorate throughout the day, the district will CANCEL SCHOOL. The cancel school response is also appropriate when local law enforcement agencies are advising people to stay off the roads, or when there is a likelihood of interrupted utility services to the school facilities. When the district chooses to cancel school, all after-school and evening activities are automatically cancelled as well.
There are times when school is scheduled to start and end on time, but busing is impacted. In these instances when certain bus routes cannot run (often due to the more serious weather conditions that occur in the rural parts of our district), the Transportation Department will communicate with you via Blackboard Connect-5 phone and/or email messaging. When only busing is impacted, there typically will NOT be an announcement via local media outlets.
How Is The Public Notified?
All storm announcements relating to West Fargo Public Schools will be reported to local radio and television stations; communicated to parents and guardians by the Blackboard Connect-5 messaging system (phone and/or email); and be posted to the school district's website (www.west-fargo.k12.nd.us). Please check more than one source, as on occasion we are unable to make contact with all media sources due to their capacity to handle all incoming calls or we may not have an accurate telephone number or email address for a family in the Blackboard Connect-5 system. Out of respect for our families, the phone feature of our Blackboard Connect-5 messaging system will not be utilized after 9:30 PM or before 6:00 AM.