Friday, November 11, 2016

It is Inevitable!

Although we have been greeted with a beautiful fall, winter weather will soon be here. This brings up the question regarding school cancellations for weather related situations. Therefore, here is my best attempt to answer the question.

NWS Windchill Chart.gif

Cold Weather Related

As you might recall, in the past, we had several school days closed due to excessively cold weather.  I am hopeful that we will not experience those extreme temperatures this year.  With that said, I would like to remind our constituents of guiding principles for closing school due to extreme temperatures.

  • Our school buses are housed indoors and are in excellent condition.  In the unlikely event that mechanical failure would occur during cold weather, there are backup buses that can respond to lend assistance in short order.
  • Wind chill temperature, actual temperature and frostbite time frames are taken into consideration when making a decision to stay open or closed. I utilize the NWS Wind Chill Chart as my guide.  If frostbite times are in the 30 minutes range, it will be my recommendation to hold school as planned provided other issues such as snowfall, visibility & road conditions are acceptable.
  • I believe that if we operate within the wind chill parameters set forth above, we are putting the safety of students first, but also providing opportunities to continue school on regularly scheduled days.
  • I ask that parents pay special attention to proper clothing for their children during the winter season and especially during these very cold conditions.  Whether a child is in Kindergarten or in 12th grade, all students should have proper winter apparel including mittens and hat before venturing out.
  • If the decision is made to hold school on days of negative wind chills, it is the parent's final responsibility to determine whether it is safe for their child to go to school.  Throughout our district, we have so many different circumstances with different families that a single decision by the superintendent may not properly respond to the consideration of a particular family.  If parents elect to hold their children home due to inclement weather, the absence will be considered an excused absence.

Please make certain that your alert system information (Infinite Campus) is up to date as we rely on this system to communicate messages regarding school closures.  

Precipitation Related
Whenever extreme precipitation events are forecasted or under way, the Superintendent works directly with the transportation company, county road officials, and area school districts to determine what action needs to take place to ensure student safety. Although, area school districts are consulted, each district comes to their own conclusions based on local road conditions and visibility.

When possible, these decisions will be made in the evening prior to 10:00 pm. However, often times this cannot take place due to a variety of reasons. If decisions cannot be made the prior evening, we will strive to make the call by 6:15 am.

Weather announcements are delivered in the following formats listed in order of priority:
  1. Infinite Campus Messenger System (Please make certain that your alert system information is up to date)
  2. Social Media Networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat)
  3. District Website
  4. Television News Stations
  5. Radio Stations

Flexible Learning Days

In Minnesota we are faced with having to make difficult decisions about whether to have school in session or close school due to inclement weather.  There are also times when other emergencies arise which necessitate a school closing decision.  With the recent adoption of our 1:1 technology and online access, we have decided to embark on a journey of Flexible Learning Days.  This document will highlight the definition of Flexible Learning Days and the various guidelines the district will use when conducting such days.
Flexible Learning Days are days in which learning can continue from home.  Meaning, if school is called off, our teachers can continue teaching and our students can continue learning from home.  By implementing this process we will have the ability to eliminate snow make-up days as teaching and learning will continue in times of inclement weather.
It is understood that students will have a wide variety of responsibilities at home during Flexible Learning Days and that some may not have access to the Internet.  Staff members understand these situations and will be flexible with those situations.  However, the expectation is that students complete the work in a timely manner as developed between each student and teacher.
High School Guidelines
Teachers understand that some of our high school students will have various responsibilities at home on days of weather emergencies, such as, looking after siblings, clearing driveways and others.  With that said, teachers will keep that in mind when developing tasks for the day of learning.
If school is cancelled, the plan will be to have all teachers post work by 10:00 am for the students they would have seen that day.  They have been asked to use Google Classroom so that students and families have only one place to look.  Google Classroom also provides a wonderful platform for posting materials students will need, for interaction, or for brief videos of content teachers would like delivered.  There may be rare exceptions where Google Classroom will not work for someone, so check email or teacher websites if nothing is up on Google Classroom.
Elementary School Guidelines
In preparation of school cancellations, elementary teachers will have four “Blizzard Bags” prepared to share with families at Open House.  These bags will have a variety of learning activities for the students to engage in while at home.  Teachers will also be available from 10:00 am until 3:30 pm for their students and/or families.  The students will be required to complete assignments in Reading/Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, and one other content of their choice (STEM, Music, Band, Physical Education).  These assignments should not last longer than approximately 20 minutes for each subject area.

In preparation for Emergency Flexible Learning Days, teachers have been asked to:

·      Anticipate time requirements recognizing students learn at different paces, especially in an independent setting.
·      Provide a timely plan, posting work for the day by 10:00 am
·      Be present on Google Classroom and email during the Flexible Learning Day
·      Plan for self-directed, independent learning with specific consideration to age and individual learning needs
·      Customize learning opportunities especially in troubleshooting student challenges
·      Communicate with colleagues to ensure common expectations, communications, and protocols
We sincerely appreciate your understanding and cooperation.  Should you have any specific questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

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