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, text message 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 in the PowerSchool Parent Portal. If your phone or email address changes during the school year, please contact the office of your student’s school to update it. If you would like to fine tune your SchoolMessenger settings, for example to specify whether you prefer a phone call or a text message or both, please log on to thePowerSchool Parent Portal at https://wellesley.powerschool.com/public/ and click on the SchoolMessenger InfoCenter tab in the left sidebar. Use the top right drop-down menu to select Preferences. Click on any phone number or email address to fine tune your preferences. You may also read our Parent Portal and text messaging FAQs for more information. 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.