When the Cold Winds Blow and the Snow Falls
At the possibility of any bad weather, district personnel watch the weather forecasts throughout the night and early morning. The Superintendent’s office stays in contact with a number of school personnel, city entities, and local law enforcement to make the best decision possible.
Temperatures, wind chills, amounts of snow, and visibility are all considered when determining whether or not to have school. There are often two different weather-related decisions to make: One involves heavy snowfall, while the other, wind and frigid temperatures.
In response to snow-related issues, the determining factor is the ability for city and county workers to plow and clear roads. Because roads are plowed throughout the night and early morning hours, this decision will most commonly be made in the early hours based on conditions at the time and the forecast for the hours when students and staff will be getting to school. We are also mindful of the rural areas our district covers, as well as traffic in the main part of the city.
For cold and frigid temperatures, we try our best to make a decision the evening before. If the National Weather Service forecast for 6 a.m. calls for air temperatures of 25 degrees below zero or colder, or if the forecast wind chill is minus 40 or worse, classes and activities will be canceled. If this threshold is not met, we will to continue to monitor conditions and make any needed decisions into the next morning.
Now, we have the added benefit of the “SafeStop” app – showing our parents and students the GPS location of their school bus. This availability will help with knowing the location of the bus and when students should be sent to the bus stop; this availability will certainly play a factor in decisions related to cold weather. Instructions for downloading this app can be found at info.safestopapp.com/johnstonia.
Once a decision is made to close or alter the school day, all of our students’ families will receive an automated phone message and email via the Blackboard Connect messaging system. A notification will also be sent via the mobile application, posted on social media, and posted on the district website. School closing information will also be available via any of the local television stations – Channels 5, 8, and 13, the Des Moines Register website, and radio stations WHO 1040, KISS 107.5, and KXNO 1460. This message will be sent as soon as possible following a decision.
Delays, Early Outs, and Cancellations
In the event the school day is altered due to inclement weather or another unplanned event, the district makes every attempt to information families and staff. Here are guidelines for typical school day alterations:
Two-hour late start: The school day will start two hours later than it normally would. Elementaries will begin class at 10:35 a.m. and secondaries will begin class at 9:45 a.m. Buses will pick up students an average of two hours later than they normally would in the morning.
Two-hour early out: School will dismiss two hours earlier than normal. Elementaries dismiss at 1:35 p.m.; secondaries at 12:50 p.m. Buses will pick students up from school and get them home safely, approximately two hours earlier than normal. KTC and SAS will abide by their own procedures for the availability of the after-school program on early dismissal days.
Entire school day cancellation: If school is cancelled for the entire day, all school buildings will be closed. The district office will be open, unless the weather is extremely bad. Activity and athletic practices will operate on a case-by-case basis, as determined by coaches. Community Education will also operate by their own procedures regarding the availability of KTC, SAS, and classes.
In the event school is delayed one hour in the morning, developmental kindergarten will still be held. If we have a two-hour delay, there will be no morning developmental kindergarten. If a decision to let out school early is made before afternoon developmental kindergarten starts, they will not have class. Otherwise, they will dismiss the same time as other schools.
During winter months, the local weather report service report is used to determine if children will participate in outdoor recess. If the wind chill index is 5 degrees Fahrenheit or below, recess will be held indoors. Appropriate clothing for winter weather conditions is a must.
School Activities and Athletics
The decision to hold practices will be made on a case-by-case basis.
Community Education Programs
Preschool, Kids Connection and other Community Education programs have varying ways of handling late starts, early dismissals, and no school days due to weather. Preschool teachers and KTC staff will provide information to parents of children enrolled in those programs about how those changes are handled. A weather hotline is available at 252-8488 for cancellation announcements for CE. You may also contact the CE office at 278-0552 for additional information.
Aside from all these steps and precautions, ultimately it is parents that have the best information regarding the road conditions at their home, and the final choice to send a child to school during inclement weather.