Guidelines for School Cancellations and Delays

Who Decides?

The Superintendent is required by law to ensure that the schools are open on all scheduled days unless conditions are unsafe for students. Consequently, the Superintendent must decide if conditions warrant a change in the normal schedule.

When is the Decision Made?

When extreme weather conditions are forecast, the decision is often made the preceding evening in order to give parents additional time to make necessary arrangements for their children. Under normal circumstances, the process of gathering relevant information begins at approximately 3:30 a.m. Every effort is made to make decisions regarding delays and cancellations by 5:30 a.m.

Who Provides Relevant Information?

• District’s transportation company

• Local and National Weather Service – Erie County Emergency Management Office

• Township and Borough personnel, when appropriate.

• National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

• School personnel in our district and surrounding school districts.

What are the Primary Reasons for a Delay or Cancellation?

• Extreme cold temperatures that could be unsafe for students.

• Road conditions that are too dangerous for the school buses to travel.

What are the Guidelines Regarding Extreme Cold?

• According to the National Weather Service, no specific rules exist for determining when wind chill becomes dangerous. However, the threshold for potentially dangerous wind chill conditions is approximately -25°F.

• If the National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Advisory and wind chill predictions are for temperatures of -25° or colder at 6:30 a.m., a delay may be called.

• Note that there may be warmer or cooler areas within the District. The -25°F wind chill guideline is a threshold at which point a delay will be considered. The District relies on the available temperature reports, which may not reflect the conditions at your location.

• If the National Weather service issues a Wind Chill Warning, a delay will be called. If conditions do not improve, school cancellation is possible.

What is the Critical Question Regarding the Safety of the Roads?

The critical question is: Can school buses traveling at safe speeds get students to school safely and reasonably “on time?” The question is not: Is it snowing or are some roads slippery? That answer could be yes, but that does not always mean that buses cannot travel safely.

• If the conditions are drivable at 5:30 a.m. when the bus drivers arrive to start bus preparations and there is not an impending forecast of snow corroborated with weather radar, transportation operations will begin.

• School will be delayed or cancelled if road conditions are such that travel is too hazardous for vehicles.

• School cancellation will be considered if travel delays are expected to be so great that staff cannot reach the buildings in order to teach students or students will be out at bus stops for an excessive amount of time.

Note: If an unexpected squall or lake effect snow band arises once transportation of students begins, it is usually not possible to cancel or delay bus runs in progress. In this instance, the buses will travel slowly or even stop temporarily, if necessary, until conditions improve.

What Decision Should Parents Make?

Parents always have the responsibility for making decisions that are in the best interest of the health and safety of their own children. This includes decisions about sending a child to school when conditions are questionable. The Superintendent will make a decision in the best interest of the District at large. Parents may decide to make a different decision for their own child based upon other factors such as age, health, attendance, academics, distance from the bus stop, road conditions unique to their area, bus stop waiting area, length of the bus ride, etc. In those situations, the School District will honor the decision of the parent who assesses the individual circumstance and acts accordingly. While it is important to have students in school, on time, every scheduled day, the safety of each child is paramount. As the District makes every effort to preserve instructional time for its students, parents are urged to make the appropriate decision based on their own situation in order to preserve the health, safety, and welfare of their child.