Message from the Superintendent
INCLEMENT WEATHER INFORMATION
Winter has arrived and so has my responsibility to make the sometimes unpopular decision to delay or close the school buildings due to inclement weather conditions. Students, ever so happy to have a day off, will cheer me. On the other hand, parents may shudder depending on their schedule. Under any circumstance, it is an important decision and not one that I make without serious consideration of many different factors. I have outlined my decision making process as follows:
HOW IS THE DECISION MADE TO CANCEL SCHOOL?
- Road conditions - the Natick Department of Public Works is contacted for information on road conditions. Careful consideration is given to roads in the district with the most hazardous conditions. Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in town may be dangerous. Also, I must consider that some high school students drive to school.
- The existing accumulation of snow and/or ice.
- The rate and expected duration of this precipitation.
- School building conditions (such as electricity and heat).
- School parking lot conditions. The Director of Facilities contacts the maintenance and custodial staff who are responsible for clearing and treating school parking lots and sidewalks.
- Temperature and wind-chill factors. Please keep in mind that a number of students either walk to school or wait on sidewalks for the school bus.
- Weather predictions. I prefer not to make my decision based on weather predictions since they are not always accurate. However, this may be unavoidable. Please understand when weather warnings are given, I am awake at 4:00 am to begin the process, as listed above, to gather all the relevant information in order to make a careful and well-informed decision. The students' safety is my number one priority and my decision to close or delay school depends upon it.
- I also consult other districts and share information with local superintendents and take their recommendations into consideration when making my decision.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
As Superintendent of Schools, I am responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors and recommendations from the Department of Public Works and the Director of Facilities.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
My goal is to make the decision by 5:30 am or earlier so that the radio and TV stations can be notified. I realize that if I wait longer to announce a closing, some parents will have already left for work, leaving their children unsupervised.
If conditions are such that the DPW tells us that it needs extra time to plow the roads or sand the streets, we will shorten the school day. Under this alternative plan, the opening of school and all bus pickups will be delayed two hours. This simply means that the High School will open at 9:30 a.m. The Wilson Middle School and the Kennedy Middle School will open at 9:50 a.m., and the elementary schools will open as follows: Bennett-Hemenway 10:15 a.m., Brown 10:30 a.m., Johnson 10:30 a.m., Lilja 10:30 a.m., and Memorial 10:50 a.m. There will be no morning pre-school on days with a delay opening.
On a two hour delay day, schools will dismiss at their regular times. The noon meal will be served at the regular times in the cafeterias of each building.
We remind parents not to attempt to send their children to school early on "Two-Hour Delay" days since the school yards may not be plowed nor will staff be available to supervise early arrivals.
Under rare circumstances, the Superintendent of Schools may determine that inclement weather that threatens to make the afternoon commute unsafe requires an early dismissal from school. If such a decision is made, we will notify families using the emergency function of our automated phone and email system so that all phone numbers on record for both parents will be called (home, mobile, and work) in addition to both parents emails. Families are asked to plan ahead regarding childcare for such a situation.
EARLY RISER AND AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITY PROGRAM (ASAP) - CANCELLATION AND DELAY POLICY
When school is cancelled, Early Risers and the After School Activity Program (ASAP) will also be cancelled.
If there is a delay for the start of school, there will be no Early Risers Program.
If school closes early due to inclement weather, ASAP is closed. To ensure safety for children if families are unable to pick up by school dismissal, ASAP staff will be on site for one hour after school dismissal.
If the School Superintendent cancels after school programs and school is released at regular dismissal times, ASAP is closed.
* If school is open and the School Superintendent cancels ASAP or closes ASAP early, parents will be notified via email and Facebook and the message will be changed on our site cell phone and main office voicemail message. When bad weather is forecast, please check email regularly and plan carefully for pick-up knowing that weather may extend your commute.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
A recorded phone message will be sent to each family's primary phone contact. In addition, announcements will be carried starting at 6:00 a.m. by radio stations WBUR (FM 90.9), WBZ (AM 103.0), WRKO (AM 68.0), by television stations Channel 4, 5, 7, Fox 25, CW56. A posting will be displayed on the Natick Public Schools Website as well as a recorded message on the "School Closing Line" (508) 647-6515. The following websites may also list school closings:
In closing, as you have seen from above there are a number of items that factor into my final decision, none more than the safety of our students. The verdict to close or not to close is more of an art than a science and I know I am only as good as my last decision. However, my decision is made based upon information that is available to me at the time that this decision must be made.
Peter Sanchioni, Ph.D.