When and Why Do We Cancel School
When we cancel a school day, many dynamics are considered extensively, but the most important factor is the safety of our students. With weather related issues, the district considers travel conditions and how buses and other vehicles will travel on snow or icy covered roads. We check the weather forecasts from the National Weather Service (NWS) out of Omaha and Valley, Nebraska, and the local weather station forecasts. The NWS updates its situation reports during severe weather days and sends hourly or bi-hourly reports that contain weather advisory reports, forecast changes that extend into the next day(s), the hazards and areas affected by severe weather (like ice, sleet, snow, winds) and the impacts, such as travel hazards and power outages that are potentially affected by the forecasted storm. The reports contain the timing and duration of the incoming weather and the impact severity for the weather. And the reports have links that contain probabilistic snow maps, local OAX weather maps, Nebraska Weather maps, and a Winter Storm Severity Index. We will include a link for the Nebraska Weather Maps below. We will also check with the local stations for their weather forecasts and predicted travel hazards. Many early mornings and evenings, we will drive around our Conestoga district; checking the highways, gravel roads, local town streets, and the Beaver Lake streets to see the first-hand and current travel situations of the roads. We will check the snowplow locations and their cameras to understand when and how the plows would clear roads. See their link below. Blowing winds, low temperatures, and forecasted snow amounts can really cause immediate travel concerns in a matter of a short time. An example to share was the January 24, 2019 day, where 40 mph winds were forecasted from 6AM to 6PM causing a continuous drifting of snow on the roads. County snow plows were not keeping up with the accumulating snow levels which caused the district to believe that we needed to get kids home before roads were snowed shut before the regular 4PM dismissal, thus issuing an early dismissal time.
Conestoga School District understands the concerns that impact families when school is cancelled, or late starts, and/or early dismissals. We understand the inconvenience and work-related issues and we are sorry that it does affect your work schedules. Our biggest concern is the safety of travel and we’d never want to have a travel accident, so we work to evaluate what’s best for each situation. Possibly the idiom, “Better safe than sorry” works with school transportation.
ParentSquare notifications going out to parents and families have been somewhat of a “glitch” with getting information out to all families. Please contact the school offices (elementary or secondary secretaries) if you are not receiving messages. We have a few options of getting information out to people, which we’re learning that not all families have received the weather-related closings. We have various choices that parents have signed-up for with how they want to receive ParentSquare messages; like voice messages, or text messages or, emails, or a combination of the three. We’ve learned that if parents are only signed up for the voice messages, they may not receive the ParentSquare notifications all the time. The voice messages are limited to 300 characters, so the messages are short and brief, plus the messages maybe bouncing back to our messaging-program and the message is dropped. We apologize for this issues and we’re working to fix them. We are also asking parents to consider receiving two options of information sent to them. The text messages and emails contain the detailed information and therefore, you are better informed of situations. Again, contact your school office to request to add the text and /or email feature to your ParentSquare notifications. Lastly, we are also getting the school closings out on social media; Facebook and Twitter, and the local TV stations; KETV, KMTV, and WOWT. Please consider checking these sites for quick references for school closing status.
All in all, we do want to have regular school days. We are responsible for your children’s education and safety. We don’t want to disrupt a routine, but sometimes our Nebraska weather affects what we can do to have school.
Please stay safe and contact the school if you have concerns and questions.
Nebraska Weather Maps: https://www.weather.gov/oax/NEgraphics
Nebraska Department of Roads Snow Plows: https://plows.nebraska.gov/index.html