Monday, February 8, 2021

Can We Talk About the Weather?

The weather has shifted, and we are starting to see colder days and far more snow. I would encourage you to talk with your kids about dressing appropriately to the weather conditions. It can get a cold waiting at a bus stop even if it isn't snowing at the time.

It is necessary to adjust the school schedule at times. The following information will help you be prepared and understand the announcements made on School Messenger and or text message.  If you have blocked School Messenger calls, emails, or texts, you will not receive these notices.  Please call the school office if you want to receive them and have not been. The staff will be happy to assist you.

How is the Decision Made?

The decision to delay, close, or dismiss school early is largely dependent on the current weather conditions and what is anticipated to happen in the hours to come.  I prefer to announce the night before to allow families the maximum amount of time to prepare for a schedule change. If a decision is not made the night before, an effort is made to make a decision and announce it around 5:30 AM.  Some find this too early, but we do have staff and students at school as early as 6:00 AM for work assignments and practices.

Weather decisions are frequently made in collaboration with area superintendents, transportation and maintenance directors.  At times it makes sense to make a common decision between districts, but this is not always the case. Weather conditions vary; what is happening in the Shenandoah District may differ from what is happening in a different district.  Ultimately, a decision is made that is believed to be safe and appropriate for the Shenandoah District.

Road conditions are a very important part of the decision that is made.  We check roads using information from the DOT, specific internet sites, driving some roads and routes, and consulting with others in the area. It may be that some roads are better than others and it is not possible to drive every road. We understand, you as a parent/guardian will need to make the ultimate decision about the safety of the conditions and ability to bring your child to school.  Please contact your school office by phone or email to communicate with them about your student’s attendance.

Weather predictions are not always accurate. Advancements with technology have helped us be more accurate, but making weather-related decisions remains our best-informed estimation of what might occur.

What Do the Decisions Mean?

Two Hour Delays are normally called when the anticipated weather conditions or roads will improve with a little more time. This type of decision allows road crews and staff more time to clear roads, parking lots, and sidewalks to make travel easier. It also allows additional time for students, staff, and parents to arrive at school and work safely.

School start times and bus pick-up times will be two hours later than normal. If school normally starts at 8:05 AM, it will start at 10:05 AM when there is a two-hour delay.  A bus that normally picks up at 7:10 AM will pick up at 9:10 AM.

Any school activity, practice, or program that occurs will start two hours late unless it is specifically announced as canceled for the day.

Morning Preschool for Three Year Olds is not held when there is a delayed start to the day. There will be afternoon Preschool.

Mid-day Early Dismissals are understandably difficult for families and caregivers, but they are necessary at times.  This type of dismissal occurs when the weather is rapidly changing.  Dismissing early is important to allow students and staff to arrive home before the weather becomes more serious or transportation is not possible. When mid-day early dismissal occurs related to weather, there will be no school activities, practices, or events.  It may also occur when there is a serious problem with the facility or safety concern that must be addressed. 

Hard Surface Routes Only is announced when gravel road conditions make it difficult for a bus to pass through. 

If school is closed for the day, there will be no school activities, practices, or events.  This is due to several factors.  School is closed if the weather is anticipated to be severe, which normally means that travel is not advised. It also might be because there are conditions in the building or on the grounds that need to be addressed, such as roof conditions, heating problems, and clearing entryways before we allow people on campus.  If there is a significant change in the weather, a home event or a state-level contest, or an unusual circumstance, a different announcement may be made. 

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Getting Better

I really enjoyed how I was able to spend more of my time at work the last several weeks. It provided me with some excellent insight into the work done across the district, the successes, and some of the challenges.  I found it quite rewarding to see some of our young students engaged in different learning types, using technology, engaging in literacy and math.  Sometimes it is easy to underestimate their abilities, but kids are so talented, capable, and willing if we provide the structure to allow them to learn.   

January 18th was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. While the students were not in session, the staff was engaged in professional learning.  We spent time learning together about different ways to support our students and families by allowing staff to attend various sessions on changes in special education law related to seclusion and restraint, instructional strategies to differentiate instruction,  understanding the impacts of trauma, and diversity awareness.  

I was pleased we were able to spend time engaging in conversation about our district's future direction.  Our staff has great talent and is creative and innovative, so this was time well spent discussing how we can stretch our thinking, be bold and improve upon our work. Continuing to expand Career Technical Education and Remote Learning surfaced as areas of interest that we want to continue to develop and prioritize.  We have invested a substantial amount of professional time and expense into each of these areas and are committed to bringing resources to further develop these educational programs.  

Recent legislation (SF 160) has been a little confusing to some of our staff and the public.  The legislation requires all schools to offer 100% in-person learning effective February 15, 2021. Our District is currently in full compliance with this legislation because we currently allow parents to send their child to school full time or participate remotely.  SF160 does not eliminate voluntary remote learning options and does not prohibit a district from becoming an online provider. The legislation affords more options for parents to consider.  I anticipate our district will continue improving, expanding, and growing our remote learning and online learning options rather than eliminating them.  

Learning & Leading

The countdown is on, and it is going to be a great school year! I am really looking forward to having everyone back on campus. The administr...