Inclement Weather Procedures
At this time of year it is very important to be aware of our inclement weather procedures. The decision to close schools is not an easy one to make and often the decision needs to be made quickly and decisively and always in the best interest for the continued safety of our students and staff. We begin the decision process at 4 a.m. or sooner, depending on the weather and the forecast. With more than fifty other locations that we transport students to (BOCES, private schools, special programs), a delayed start is usually not an option for a district our size.
Once the decision is made to close, radio and television stations are contacted, the district’s webpage is updated and the iConnect notification is sent out. I would ask that parents take a few moments to sign into the Parent Portal and review their contact information to make sure that it’s current. Please visit https://powerschool.opschools.org for more information.
The Orchard Park Central School District covers approximately 50 square miles, and much of the area is hilly terrain shaped in a narrow band that stretches south. Because of the land formation, it is common to have varying weather at different ends of the district. So 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 a safety concern.
If weather turns bad during the school day, students will remain at school until the weather is clear enough to travel. Typically, we 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.
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.