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Inclement Weather Procedures & Notification Options

January 17, 2019

 

Dear Cheltenham School District Families and Staff -

This weekend, we experienced our first snow of 2019, and if past is prelude to the future, we can expect additional winter weather for the next few months. I’m reaching out to you to share how the district comes to decisions with regard to inclement weather circumstances. We understand the District’s decision to open or close schools in inclement weather has a huge impact on families and staff and we hope this communication will shed some light on that decision-making process.

Although the District does its absolute best in the school closing process, inclement weather poses many unforeseen challenges. Please exercise caution when traveling during inclement weather, and, if possible, discourage your teenager from driving.

Below, please find information regarding the District’s inclement weather procedures and notification system.

 

What real-time factors determine if school closes or opens late?

  • Information on road conditions from the District’s Facilities and Transportation staff and Cheltenham Township Emergency Management: The District must consider the most dangerous roads in the township first, and, even if streets in a neighborhood look clear, travel elsewhere in the District may be dangerous. The fact that some high schoolers drive to school further complicates matters.
  • Snow and ice accumulation, temperature and wind chill. These factors come into play with walkers or those who wait outside for the bus.
  • Weather forecasts and precipitation time frame. The District prefers not making decisions based on weather forecasts, which are not always accurate. Sometimes, this is unavoidable. If the accumulated snowfall and/or ice are in the process of being cleared, school may open on a two-hour delay, in which case buses will run regular routes two hours later than normal. If the precipitation doesn’t begin until school has started, the district may dismiss early but still serve lunch so as to receive credit for a full day of school.
  • Building and parking lot conditions. An obvious concern is whether buildings have heat and electricity. Though the District facilities team is busy plowing parking lots well before sunrise, sometimes they can’t keep pace with the rate of precipitation. Black ice in the parking lots is another consideration.
  • Neighboring school districts. Area superintendents share information with each other with regard to their plans.

 

Who makes the decision and when?

  • The Superintendent of Schools, in consultation with area superintendents, Cheltenham Township Emergency Management and District Facilities and Transportation staff, makes the final decision as early as possible. In some circumstances, however, the decision to close or open late is made the night before.

How are families notified?

  • Mobile Application: This fall, the District rolled out a branded mobile application available for iPhone and Android users. The application features push notifications, which is the fastest way to learn of a school closing or delayed opening. The app is available for download to mobile devices in the App Store and Google Play.
  • Telephone: Families receive a robocall to the phone numbers listed in PowerSchool alerting them of the decision to close or open on a delay. To update your information, visit cheltenham.org/updatemyinfo.
  • Email: Families receive a message to the email addresses listed in PowerSchool alerting them of the decision to close or open on a delay. To update your information, visit cheltenham.org/updatemyinfo.
  • Online: A “pop up” announcement is posted at Cheltenham.org and on Facebook and other social media channels. All official Cheltenham social media accounts use “CheltenhamSD.” Local news media post closing information to their websites by school district names: CBS3 | 6ABC | Fox29 | KYW1060.

 

What happens with C.L.A.S.P. when school is closed, opens late or dismisses early?

  • If schools are closed, C.L.A.S.P centers are closed.
  • If schools open on a two-hour delay, morning C.L.A.S.P. centers are not open.
  • If schools dismiss early, afternoon C.L.A.S.P. centers are not open.

 

Best,

Wagner Marseille, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools