As we approach the winter months, it seems appropriate to review our procedures for school closures,
delayed openings, and the early dismissal of students that may result from severe weather. It’s important to note that the safety of our students and staff is paramount as we make decisions for the District in response to weather that can be difficult to predict and/ or change quickly as is so often the case in New England.
- Decision-Making Process
When severe weather is forecast, we remain in close contact with other Town Departments such as the Department of Public Works and Wellesley Police Department to assess the conditions of roads and sidewalks and to coordinate activity. Similarly, local superintendents check in with each other to compare conditions across the area. More than likely, a final decision to close school or have a delayed opening will not be made until the early morning hours, typically by 5AM. There are times when an early release of school may be required in the event, for example, of a storm intensifying mid-day that would make our regular dismissal hazardous. In that case, we would base the early dismissal time on the amount of time needed for our buses to complete their routes at all grade levels. All buses will run their regular routes based on an adjusted delayed opening or early dismissal time. Any time hazardous weather is in the forecast, we encourage parents and staff to plan in advance for child-care coverage to ensure they are prepared for any contingency.
We recognize that timely communications are essential when planning for severe weather. Our school notification system, SchoolMessenger, has proven to be invaluable in disseminating both emergency and non-emergency messages to our parents and staff. Once a closure or delayed opening decision is made, we will use SchoolMessenger to broadcast that message out to our community via phone and email in a process that takes only a few minutes. It’s important to note that SchoolMessenger draws from contact information that parents/guardians provide to WPS at the start of each school year. Knowing that phone numbers and email addresses can change, we ask that parents confirm their emergency contact information during the next two weeks. At your earliest convenience, please log on to the parent portal at: https://wellesley.powerschool.com/public/ and click on the SchoolMessenger Update tab on the left side bar. If you would like to revise your information, enter your changes and click submit. To clear an item completely, enter “ “ in the update field. Please note: Revisions made to your contact information affect all notifications you receive, not solely school delay/closure announcements and will take effect at 11:30 pm on the night of the change. Because severe weather can sometimes mean the loss of power and/or phone service, an emergency message through SchoolMessenger will be sent to families and staff via email, and the home/cell numbers provided to WPS. While this may result in families receiving multiple messages in the early morning hours, we hope everyone appreciates the necessity of this redundancy. In addition to SchoolMessenger, emergency notifications will also be posted on the District Website: https://wellesleyps.org/ and sent to the local media.
- School Calendar
Students in Massachusetts are required to attend school for 180 days each year. School districts are also required to adopt a 185-day calendar each year to allow for weather-related and other emergencies that may close school. In the event that a school district exceeds five “snow days,” additional days must be made up either during the year or at the conclusion of the adopted calendar.
David F. Lussier, Ed.D.