The snow and cold weather has arrived in Vermont and we can anticipate more challenging weather over the next few months. As you might imagine, we get phone calls and email correspondence regarding school closing and delay decisions. It’s not an easy call, but the primary factor in changing the school schedule is student safety.
Before 5:00 a.m. on a weather-challenged day, I contact the Transportation Supervisor to find out the status of roads. The Transportation Supervisor contacts all of the road crews throughout Chittenden East to determine if roads can be safely traveled. In addition to the information obtained from road crews and the recommendation of the Transportation Supervisor, I use local and national reports to monitor weather patterns. At approximately 5:30 a.m., I check back with the Transportation Supervisor to get updated details on road conditions and make a decision to delay opening or close schools based on the road crews’ recommendations and current weather predictions. This is not a perfect science, but I do my very best to make informed and sound decisions. I need to be reasonably sure of the following:
The roads/highways are safely passable.
The buses can travel safely.
There is power available to the schools.
Pedestrians can move around safely to and from school.
The building exits can be cleared in the event of a possible evacuation.
Extreme cold does not present severe risk to students waiting for buses and walking to school
Based on the best information available, I make one of the following decisions:
Delay school 90 minutes (school opens and buses pick up students 90 minutes later than regular scheduled time)
Delay school two hours (school opens and buses pick up students two hours later than regular scheduled time)
There will be occasions when school remains open in less than ideal weather conditions. When this happens, we have particular concern for the welfare of our teenage drivers. We know that icy and snow covered roads are a challenge for any driver. Please be very deliberate before allowing a young driver to leave for school in inclement weather. When school is in session, if you feel road conditions are unsafe to send your child to school, you always have the freedom to keep your child home for the day.
When there is a change in the school day, a message will be delivered via email and/or phone to individuals who have signed up for the Schoolmessenger notification system. In addition, an announcement will be broadcast on radio, local TV, and on our schools' websites.
If we are able to open school, we seldom close early due to inclement weather. Local and state road crews know when the afternoon buses depart from school. We need to allow them an opportunity to service the roads. Additionally, I recognize that closing school early presents significant challenges for students and parents/guardians.
My hope is to hold school on schedule throughout the winter months.
John Alberghini, Superintendent