Our staff members understand that
our decision to close schools or keep them open in bad weather has a big effect
on families. We also understand that our students are better served - both
academically and socially - by being in school. But as always, our top priority
is the safety of our students.
HOW DO WE MAKE OUR DECISION?
Please understand that we make the decision to open or close the schools in bad weather based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:
- Information on road conditions from transportation staff and other staff that go out and drive certain routes starting at 3:00 a.m. we give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads in the district. Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be dangerous. Also, we must consider that some high school students drive to school.
- Amount of snow and/or ice accumulated.
- Whether precipitation is continuing.
- Building conditions (do we have electricity and heat?)
- Parking lot conditions. Administrators talk to maintenance and custodial staff members who are responsible for clearing and treating school parking lots and sidewalks.
- Temperature and wind chill. Please remember that some of our students walk to school and some must wait outside for the bus.
- Weather predictions. We prefer not to make our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate. But sometimes it is unavoidable.
- What other schools are doing. We also share information with other local districts and check whether they are opening or closing.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
As superintendent, I am responsible for the final decision based on the above factors and recommendations from the Transportation and Buildings & Grounds supervisors as well as consulting with other local superintendents and district staff.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED?
Tune to local radio stations (AM = KGTK 920, KOMO 1000, KMAS 1030, KGY 1240, KITZ 1400; FM = KPLU 88.5, KMPS 94.1, KRXY 94.5, KXXO 96.1, KGY 96.9, KIRO 97.3, KMAS 103.3, KRWM 106.9). You can also follow our district Twitter account @TumwaterSDNews or our website www.tumwater.k12.wa.us. Families will be notified by text or email if they have signed up through FlashAlert (www.flashalert.net). We also have an emergency phone line you can call at 360-709-7999 which will have a recorded message in the case of any emergency delays or closures.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
I must make the decision by 5:30 a.m. or earlier so we can notify radio and TV stations and post the decision on our website. If I wait longer to announce a closing, some parents will have already left for work, leaving their children unsupervised.
When there are icy or snowy conditions busses will run on designated snow routes. Check out the transportation web site for snow route information. If you or your teenager normally drive to school, your student is welcome to take the bus on snowy or icy days. Our buses will pick up and drop off all Tumwater School District students at designated bus stops. You can call our Transportation Department at 360-709-7700 or check our website for route information.
WILL WE CLOSE SCHOOL IF CONDITIONS WORSEN?
Keep in mind that, even if weather conditions worsen, we cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering students. Once we make the decision to open schools, many parents rely on that information and leave work. If we then send students right back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty houses. If conditions get worse during the school day, we may need to have an early dismissal, but we will give adequate notice to all parents first.
Although we do our absolute best in this process, we know that often no perfect decision exists. If, based on current weather conditions, you do not feel as though it is safe for our child to attend school, use your best judgment on whether he or she would attend. Also, discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.
We hope this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff uses to make the best possible decision for all in our district.
John Bash, Superintendent