December 11, 2017

With winter weather upon us, let's refresh on our winter weather policy

It’s winter in Michigan and with the flying snow and ice there will be a need for us to delay our start time or close school for the day. These delays and closures always come with questions; this communication is my attempt to give you a peek inside our process.

Our winter days start at 4:00 AM as the director of transportation and I get our first look at whether or not the weather person’s predictions from the previous night have come true. With a district that is 135 square miles, we do our best to cover as many roads as possible between 4:00 and 5:30 AM.  We also take into consideration that during this time and in the first few hours of our day the weather can change significantly.  This causes us to consider the forecast as we look to multiple websites and local television stations for more detailed information. During this time we also communicate with neighboring districts and while we don’t follow what those districts do, they are able to give us updates on the road conditions on the borders of our district.

These are difficult decisions for us and the size and unique layout of our district makes it more challenging as we may have a few inches of snow in Bentheim and a foot of drifted snow in Blue Star or vise versa. As we drive our roads, we consider the conditions for our busses and our young drivers. While we understand that any change to our schedule brings with it adult inconveniences, our No. 1 consideration is always student safety. If we are worried about the conditions and the safety of our students and staff, I will always err on the side of caution.

School Closings and Delays Points of Interest:

When possible, our goal is to make our decision prior to 6:00 AM. Once a decision is made we will communicate it in as many ways as possible. These methods include and are not limited to television, radio, our all-call system, Twitter (@tebotweets and @HamiltonSchools), and Facebook (@hamiltonschoolsmi).

If weather deteriorates during the school day, we try to make decisions for after school activities as close to 1:00 PM as possible.

Sending kids home early is not a good option for the overall safety of our students.  We don’t dismiss early to avoid sending students home to empty houses.  We will instead tell our bus drivers to take their time and delay their arrival to ensure we get students home safely. We will communicate via our all-call system should this be necessary.

Grades PK – 8:  When school is closed all activities at these buildings are  cancelled for the entire day.

Grades 9 – 12: On days when school is cancelled there will be no activities or practices before noon. A decision regarding afternoon and evening activities will be made as close to noon as possible. Students can check with coaches or event directors for specific information regarding each activity or program.

Two-Hour Delays: On these days there will be no AM preschool or AM ECSE.

Temperature:  Decisions to close school or delay are based on a sustained wind chill of -20 degrees Fahrenheit.

Even with our best planning, communication, and positive intent, there will be weather that challenges our decisions and the safety of our almost 3,000 students and staff.  We understand and respect that every family feels differently about weather and traveling Michigan’s roads. Taking this into account we encourage families to feel confident about the decision to send or not send your children to school during inclement weather. 

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding anything related to weather delays or school closings, please contact me via email at dtebo@hamiltonschools.us or by phone at (269) 751-5148.