Is there anything more frustrating and potentially more controversial than the school snow day?
For the kids, snow days are often unexpected play days. But for families juggling jobs, school for the kids, travel to and from both places and the tough decisions about day care or babysitting, these unscheduled off days may cause havoc in the house, on the job and even financially.
And for school officials who have to make the call to close or keep open their schools each time it snows heavily, the scenarios are endless, rarely clear-cut and often open to criticism – no matter which way they decide.
Here’s the bottom line: When schools are closed, you will be told by 6 a.m. — primarily through the mainstream media, but supplemented by social media and direct outreach by automated calls when possible. When one school or group of schools will be closed, the decision will be made at least two hours prior to the scheduled school opening if possible.
All of that is especially true for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.
Not only does CMSD have by far the most students in Northeast Ohio, at nearly 40,000, and employees, about 7,000, the District spreads across a notoriously fickle weather region, from the often snow-bombed East Side to the sometimes barely dusted West.
“Each day is unique, but we work very hard to make sure we’re making the decision that is best for our students and their families, for their safety, but also for their education,” said CMSD Chief Operating Officer Patrick Zohn.
“We do face challenges because of the size of our district, including the management of a fleet of more than 220 buses, and we have to balance the needs of our scholars to be in school not only for academics, but also nutrition. We know that when we close one school or the entire District, it sets off a series of events for families as well, so we take it very seriously.”
How will I find out that my child’s school is closed or delayed or that my child is being sent home early or relocated?
1. When all schools are closed or delayed or students are being sent home early, parents and caregivers will be notified through the media
2. When one school or a group of schools are closed or delayed, the parents and caregivers will be notified through emergency contact numbers on file at the school.
3. Whenever practical, however, notice by school telephone chains, the School District’s Interactive Voice Recording (IVR) system and District website will also be used.
When will I find out that the school is closed, delayed or my child is being sent home early or relocated?
When all schools are closed, you will be notified by 6 a.m. When one school or group of schools will be closed, the decision to will be made at least 2 hours prior to the school opening if at all possible. The chief executive officer will decide by 5:45 am. Media will be notified by 6 a.m.
Who decides to close school, delay school start, dismiss school early or relocate a students?
The CEO makes the final decision, but the chief operating officer and deputy chief of operations also may recommend closure, delay or early dismissal to the CEO after discussions with Safety & Security and Transportation officials. In the case of relocation, The CEO, consults with the academic superintendent and notifies the school, chiefs of Safety, Transportation and Communications. The executive director of Food Service and central office support will be assigned to assist the school to be relocated.
What are the acceptable reasons?
Will after-school, before-school or weekend activities be cancelled?
1. After-school activities are cancelled when all schools are closed or students are sent home early or relocated. Activities are not cancelled when school is delayed. Activities are cancelled at individual or groups of schools if those schools are closed.
2. Before-school activities are cancelled when all schools, one school or a group are closed or delayed.
3. Weekend activities will be judged on a day-to-day basis (i.e. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will each be judged separately). Activities will be cancelled if schools are closed on Friday, unless otherwise directed by CEO (all events), commissioner of athletics (athletics) or academic superintendents K-12 (individual school events). If the conditions that caused a closing on Friday have changed for the better on Saturday and/or Sunday and it is safe to conduct the activities, then those will go forward as scheduled.
How will I be notified if weekend events are cancelled or will be held?
Parents, caregivers and participants will be notified via local news stations and any call lists for participants.
Do I have to be told that my child is being sent home?
1. Parental notification is required for early dismissal of a student under 18 years old, but all parents, regardless of their students’ age, will be contacted and advised of the early dismissal.
2. Parental consent is required for early dismissal of any student under 18 years old. Parental consent may be provided in advance with written sign-off or obtained via telephone at the time of the early dismissal. Written logs of the consent obtained should be maintained at all schools. Identification should be checked for individuals who pick up students for early dismissal. Parental consent is not required for students age 18 and older.
Do school employees still go to work when schools are closed, delayed or my child is sent home?
1. If all schools are closed: School-based employees are not expected to report to school, except custodians, who are expected to report to school unless otherwise directed by the Facilities Office. Central office staff (employees assigned to administrative sites) are expected to report unless exempted by their union agreement (e.g. Local 1199).
2. If one or a group of schools are closed: Custodians, security personnel and building administrators must report, but teaching staff is not expected to report unless directed by the principal to assist with students who may arrive at school. Security personnel report to the Office of Safety and Security for redeployment.
3. If all facilities are closed: School building staff are not expected to report unless directed by the principal to assist with students who may arrive at school. Central office staff (employees assigned to administrative sites) are not expected to report unless defined as “critical staff.”
4. If children are sent home early: All employees are expected to remain at work until all students are picked up and dismissed by their supervisor, or at regular release time, whichever is earlier.
5. If students are relocated to another school: All employees are expected to remain to assist with the relocation as directed by the principal.
6. Central office support will be assigned to assist the school to be relocated.