October 11, 2012
Parents of West Fargo Public School students,
As our region prepares for its first true taste of winter weather this season, it is important to review our district's inclement weather procedures. We hope that the contents of this letter, formatted as a Q&A, prove useful to you as you prepare your children for the upcoming winter weather.
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
Who Is Watching The Weather?
- The superintendent and many other school administrators carefully watch weather conditions.
Where Do They Get Their 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.
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.
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 Connect-ED messaging system; 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 for a family in the Connect-ED system.