Posted by Dr. Mark Holodick at 1/5/2017
Dear BSD Community,
Happy New Year! For most of our parents, this post will be a repeat of similar information we have shared through the years. However, there are new families in our schools that may not know the process we use to make inclement weather decisions and communicate those decisions, so the information bears repeating. And with the first potential snowfall coming tonight and early tomorrow morning, the timing is right for these reminders.
Our goal is to minimize interruptions to our school schedule. After all, it’s our job to educate your children, and we can’t do that effectively if they are not in school. However, sometimes road conditions warrant a change to the schedule in the interest of keeping all children safe. If the weather or road conditions are unsafe for our students, families, and staff, we will make every effort to alert our families as quickly as possible through several channels.
If you want the most updated information available, always check the BSD website first, specifically the yellow box on the homepage. That is the first place we update, followed by the BSD Facebook page, Twitter feeds, state school closing website, and finally local media such as WDEL, WJBR, and Philadelphia tv stations. While our Public Information Officer is handling those notifications, I am creating a phone message to go out to all families and staff as quickly as possible. Finally, we send out an email notification to all subscribers to the Brandywine Briefings newsletter. (Subscribe by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.) You can also receive a text notification through Twitter, even if you don’t have a Twitter account. Simply text the words Follow @BSDalerts to 40404, and you’ll be subscribed to receive texts.
If you are unsure what the conditions will bring in the morning and whether or not we will have school, I encourage you to simply load the BSD website and hit refresh to see what’s in the yellow box, as it will contain the most up-to-date information. I typically try to make a decision about school closing by 5 or 5:30 a.m., although it can vary a bit depending on the timing of the storm.
The rest of this post will explain how decisions are made, so if you’ve heard it all before you may want to skip ahead. :) When bad weather strikes, Assistant Superintendent Dorrell Green and several members of the District’s Facilities and Transportation Departments are on the roads, in neighborhoods, and on school properties before, during, and after each storm. They analyze the conditions and provide me with valuable information. In addition, we work with other state agencies such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Education, and Delaware State Police, as well as our neighboring New Castle County school districts to make the most informed decisions possible when determining if and when to open schools. Please keep in mind that even when main roads and school properties are clear, many side roads are still unpassable, sidewalks may be unavailable, and bus stops may still be unsafe. We must consider all of our nearly 11,000 students and how they are transported to and from school when we make decisions about the school schedule.
Closing school is not a decision that we take lightly. Above all, we must consider the safety of our children. Stay safe, stay warm, and let’s hope for a mild, dry winter!
Mark A. Holodick, Ed.D.