With wintery weather upon us, we wanted to remind everyone that our Board of Education approved the use of e-learning days, in place of emergency days after a public hearing on the matter in 2021.
The use of e-learning days allows for students to receive asynchronous instruction at home, in lieu of using the District’s five extra days that have historically been tagged onto the end of the school year. Thus, “snow days,” as they were referred to in the past, will mean attendance will be taken, and asynchronous learning will continue even while our buildings are closed. All work will be posted by teachers at 9 a.m. or earlier.
Eliminating those five extra days at the end of the school year will put our last day of student attendance on May 25.
The way that emergency/snow days are determined (see criteria below) remains the same, however. Just like snow, or extreme weather days, we will review the forecasts, hit the roads, and determine if this will be an e-learning day for all our students.
Criteria for Determining e-Learning Days Due to Weather
During weather events that are extreme enough to close our buildings and move to e-learning, Ball-Chatham will consider the following:
Closing the Night Before - Superintendents keep a close eye on the changing conditions of the weather long before the decision is made to close our buildings. Every effort is made to make the decision to close our schools and move to e-learning the evening prior so that families have time to make plans. The announcement is typically made no later than 8 p.m. if possible.
Closing the Morning of School - If weather conditions the night prior are not enough to close our buildings, but are expected to deteriorate through the daytime hours, then conditions and weather forecasts are evaluated beginning at 4 a.m. Information is also gathered from our Directors of Transportation, and Facilities, and Grounds. Once all information is gathered, the decision will typically be made around 5:40 a.m. so that notification of the building closings can be made using the automated calling system.
The District will send out a message via phone, email, and text, as well as post the information on our websites and social media platforms. We also send the information to our local media stations. If bad weather occurs during the day (after school has begun), the District will send out a message to parents in the same way that we do for an entire day cancelation. In most instances, the decision to dismiss early will be announced prior to 11 a.m.
School emergency closings could happen at any time of the year. Parents need to arrange plans with their children (and a neighbor, child care, employer, etc.) on what is expected should an emergency closing occur. Decisions to close or dismiss school early are always a judgment call, however, we do use some general criteria in making such decisions. Below are some of the criteria and examples of what would impact a decision to go to close our buildings and go to fully remote learning:
In general, are the roads safe for travel within city limits as well as rural areas?
Are the roads safe for bus traffic?
Can school busses adequately maneuver?
Parking Lot and Drop-Off Zone Conditions
Are school parking lots and drop-off zones safe for drivers and students?
Can students and employees safely walk into our buildings?
Bus Stops and Sidewalks
Do students have a safe place to wait for the bus?
Are sidewalks clear so that students have safe access to bus stops?
Are students able to access sidewalks to walk safely to school?
Temperature and Wind Chill
Are wind chill temperatures safe for students as they walk to school or wait at bus stops?
Are temperatures so extreme that automobile and bus reliability is in question?
Ball-Chatham uses the 30-minute benchmark when frostbite will set in to guide decisions, as well as any other factors present that could impact safety.
Are facilities suitable for use given weather conditions?
What are possible or probable issues for the facility given the weather conditions?
Other School Districts and Cooperatives
What decisions are being made by other area school districts?
How will their decision impact shared services, or shared events?
This list is not all-inclusive, but it provides an idea of the issues that are considered when making the decision to close our schools and go to e-learning.