by Dennis Dalman
“Minnesota weather is sometimes difficult to predict.”
You can say that again.
The sentence about unpredictable weather is part of a winter-policy communiqué released Nov. 9 by Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert.
The next day, Sartell residents awakened to a nasty blizzard underway, forcing all area schools to close (see related story).
The schools’ weather policy deals with closings, delays and dismissals.
All schools (including parochial schools) will work together as one in case of weather-related emergencies, and all will rely on the expertise of meteorologists at St. Cloud State University for forecasts and update information concerning road conditions. Those experts will advise school officials whether or not to close schools, delay openings or order early dismissals.
Besides the obvious winter-weather hazards of snow, winds, ice storms, extreme cold – fog can also be treacherous, making driving potentially dangerous, and that factor will be taken into account, too, when officials are pondering whether to shut down schools, the policy noted.
“In any weather emergency, the main objective is to provide protection and a safe environment for students,” Schwiebert wrote.
The three area superintendents will make an effort to announce school closings or late starts by 10 p.m. the night before bad weather is predicted.
- When a morning emergency closing or a late start is required, every effort will be made to make and communicate a decision by 5:30 am. of the day under consideration.
- In case of a late start, early dismissal or school closing, all student activities and practices will be cancelled. Such activities include Kidstop and all classes of Community Education, Early Childhood, Adult Basic Education, ESL and Area Learning Center.
Parents should be aware media weather alerts will be announced via Skylert, which is the school district’s text, email and call-out service. It’s posted on the district’s website, Facebook page, Twitter and on the St. Cloud Times website at www.sctimes.com. Such alerts can happen as early as 4:30 a.m. and/or no later than 10 p.m.
The purpose of the weather-related closing plan is to help parents/guardians of students to be better prepared to deal with emergencies and to reduce their potentially dangerous effects.
Parents are also encouraged to plan ahead for childcare arrangements in case of a late start or early dismissal from schools.
“Ultimately,” Schwiebert noted, “the parent/guardian should make the final decision whether a child should attend school during severe weather.”