Inclement Weather Procedures
The Roanoke County Public Schools Board Policy states “If during the time schools normally are in session, unusual or hazardous conditions exist (e.g., epidemics, inclement weather, etc.) and, in the judgment of the superintendent, the operation of the schools or a school under these conditions would endanger the students, the superintendent shall be empowered to suspend operation until the danger no longer threatens the welfare of the students.
The administration shall devise adequate plans for notifying students and parents in the event that weather conditions cause the closing of the schools.
When it becomes necessary to dismiss schools early:
- The superintendent's office will notify all schools prior to notifying the radio and television stations of such closing.
- Unless employees are notified that their work schedule is changed because of adverse weather or emergency conditions, it is expected that all employees will work according to the terms of their contract and division policy (3.21c).
- All calendar employees (260-day contract) are required to be on the job or be penalized a day's vacation or a day's pay.
- Personnel employed on the school-day basis (240 days or less) are not required to work because these days must be made up.
- The principal or department supervisor has discretion to retain or call certain personnel to maintain the building and/or services as needed.
- Principals or assistant principals shall remain in the schools until all students are safely transported home and the building secured. If a child is not picked up by a parent or guardian in any emergency situation, the principal or designee should keep that child in a safe and supervised environment.
- When schools are officially designated as emergency shelters and when a state of emergency has been declared, the principal shall assign school personnel for staffing the shelter.”
Making the decision to close schools or delay school openings involves many staff members. It is our preference to make the decision to close or delay school the night before, if possible, to allow parents as much time as possible to make arrangements. However, every weather situation is evaluated on a case-by-case basis and some weather-related decisions only can be made in the early morning hours once we have information on the possible weather situation.
The county has been divided into six regions for observation. If the weather begins overnight then at 4:00 a.m., representatives for each region begin checking weather reports and road conditions. They will remain in constant contact during road and school parking lot checks. The superintendent is informed about the weather conditions and a decision is made by 5:15 a.m. At that time, the decision to close or delay opening of schools is relayed to designated radio and television stations posted on the division’s website and an alert goes out to parents as well as employees.
If the decision is to delay the opening of schools, the staff will continue to check the road conditions and monitor the weather forecasts. Reports received from the National Weather Service and surrounding school divisions will continue to be monitored. Based on those reports, it may be determined to change the two hour delay to a closing depending on weather conditions.
If the transportation staff is notified by the National Weather Service of incoming inclement weather that will arrive after the school day begins the Transportation Supervisor and the Director of Facilities and Operations will view the weather report and discuss with the Superintendent regarding a closing before the weather begins or an early closing. Ensuring the students get home safely in a timely manner will determine closing versus early dismissal.
Our alert system requires you to register to receive notifications. Parents are automatically registered when they complete first day of school forms. Parents are notified by the schools and the information is also on our website. Employees should contact their supervisor to ensure they are added to the appropriate group.
The road assessment team drives assigned routes throughout the county determining road conditions and hazards for bus drivers. If the weather begins overnight they are on the road between 4:00 and 5:00 a.m. checking road conditions, school driveways and parking lots. They communicate the road conditions in their areas to the Transportation Supervisor and The Director of Facilities and Operations.
By 5:00 a.m. (approx.) the Director of Facilities and Operations will contact the Superintendent with their initial recommendation to open, close, or delay the opening of school.
By 5:15 a.m. (approx.) the Superintendent makes the final decision regarding opening of schools and the following steps are taken by several members of the central office staff:
· The decision to close or delay opening of schools is relayed to a number of radio and television stations in the area.
· The information is posted on the school websites and social media sites.
· The information is shared with parents, students and staff on the ParentLink alert system between 5:30 a.m and 6:00 a.m.