Procedures for Closing Schools Due to Weather and/or Road Conditions - What You Need to Know
The decision to close/delay schools is not an easy one to make and often the decision needs to be made quickly and decisively and in the best interest of the safety of our students and staff.
As early as 4 a.m., calls begin to be made by our transportation department and the Superintendent of Schools to the Orchard Park Police Department, the Orchard Park Highway Department, neighboring highway departments, the Erie County Sheriff, Erie County and New York State Highway Departments. While the phones are ringing, key district personnel are out surveying area roads and reporting the conditions to the Superintendent of Schools.
Once the decision is made to delay or close, radio and televisions stations are contacted and the district’s iConnect system is activated.
Note that the district is over 50 square miles, and much of the area is hilly terrain shaped in a narrow band that stretches south. Due to the land formation, it is common to have varying weather at different ends of the district. Even though school may not be closed, your decision to keep your child home is quite appropriate if the weather conditions around your home are not good. We all know and believe that our top priority is the safety of our children.
Cold Weather Information
It is a good idea to talk to your child about cold weather safety. It is important to check your child’s (even teenagers) outerwear. Protecting exposed skin during cold weather is extremely important: warm coats, hats, gloves, scarves and boots will help protect your child during the winter season.
When considering the safety of students in cold weather the following information from the National Weather Service is used as a guideline in making a determination to close schools:
Cautionary: Wind Chills of -18 to -20 degrees
Advisory: Wind Chills of -25 degrees or below
Warning: Wind Chills of -35 degrees or below
In many areas of the country, schools will not close until the wind chill temperature is at the Warning level of -40 degrees or below. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that no one should be outside with unprotected skin with wind-chill factors in the range of -40 degrees or below. In Orchard Park, if the wind chill temperature reaches above the advisory level, school may be delayed or closed.
Closing during the school day
If weather turns bad during the school day, students will remain at school until the weather is clear enough to travel.
Typical practice is to begin the dismissal process early, which allows the extra travel time needed in bad weather to get students home - close to the regular time. To increase the potential for older siblings to be home when the younger ones arrive, the dismissal sequence starts with high school students. Middle school dismissal follows, and elementary students are dismissed last. If parents or older siblings cannot be home for the returning youngsters, please make sure your child knows of an alternate place to go, like a specific friend or neighbor's home.
This is a great deal of information that we hope has been helpful. The radio and television broadcasts and our website will be the most reliable sources of information when inclement weather occurs.
How to Find Out if School is Closed
If the district has power, the closing will be posted on the school district’s web site: www.opschools.org and a message will be sent to parent/guardians via iConnect (parents/guardians should verify/update their PowerSchool Parent Portal contact information at least once a year to make sure they are receiving notifications).
If the weather is bad, watch or listen to one of these stations:
WGRZ-TV (Channel 2)
WIVB-TV (Channel 4)
WKBW (Channel 7)
WBEN (AM 930)