While we do our best to keep our schools open whenever possible, there are days when the weather is so severe that it is impossible to ensure our children can get to school safely. Below is a breakdown of how the District makes decisions regarding weather closures, how and when we notify families, and information on make-up days should they be needed.
When inclement weather is predicted, we begin to assess conditions the day before, with student safety as our number one priority. The variables we consider include the following:
- Local weather forecasts
- Road conditions
- Temperature (-20° F or colder) and Wind Chill (A wind chill of -35° F is dangerous as exposure for more than 20–30 minutes makes skin susceptible to frostbite.)
- If buses are operating, if drivers are available, and if buses can navigate the roads safely
- If our staff can arrive at school safely
- If our school buildings are functioning properly (e.g., power/ furnaces/heat/water/phones)
Communication to FamiliesWe strive to notify families of a closure as soon as possible. If a decision can be made the day before a closure, the communication will be sent no later than 9:30 p.m. In the event of a day-of closure, a communication will ideally be sent between 5:30 and 6:30 a.m. Setting these time parameters eliminates the need for families to check emails overnight while still allowing enough time to make child care arrangements when necessary.
- How are communications sent?
- What if weather hits when school is already in session?
- Afterschool Activities
- Make-up Days
- The Final Decision
The District uses SchoolMessenger to send email, phone, and text message alerts to D181 families.
SchoolMessenger pulls contact information for these messages from our students’ Skyward accounts. To ensure you receive these communications, please take a moment to check we have your most updated contact information on file within Skyward.
In the case of inclement weather, the District will notify families through the following channels:
- Emails will be sent to all families, staff and our Key Communicators email list. To add an email address other than what’s listed in your Skyward account, fill out the sign-up form on this page. Emails will be sent to notify families that a decision is in progress when inclement weather is predicted and when a decision is made.
- We will post updates on the District website homepage.
- Text messages will be sent to families and staff who have opted-in to receive them whenever a weather-related email communication is sent. To opt-in, simply text the word "YES" to 67587 from your cell phone number currently on file with the District, and be sure that you receive the auto-confirmation text that will be sent in response. If you need to add a cell phone number to our system, or if the number needs to be updated, that step will need to be completed first. Please view our one-page FAQ with information on that process and further detail regarding text messages from D181.
- Phone calls will be made to families and staff only in the event that schools are closed. Phone calls will not be made when a decision is still in progress or the decision has been made that school will be open.
If school is to be closed in the middle of the day because of severe weather or another emergency, every attempt will be made to notify families as soon as possible.
The first priority is the safety of the children and adults at the buildings. Students will be kept at school and will be supervised by District 181 staff until their parents or guardians are able to pick them up or until they are dismissed at the regular end of the school day.
If it is safe, students will be dismissed in the usual manner (walk, bus, bike, etc.).
In the event schools are closed, all afterschool activities scheduled for the day will be canceled. If school is in session and inclement weather is predicted for the afternoon or evening, a communication will be sent to all families as soon as a decision is reached.
For students who attend Before and After the Bell at D181 schools, which is a service provided by The Community House, you will receive a communication directly from The Community House on whether services are provided for that day.
In the event schools are closed and a make-up day needs to be made, the District will schedule a make-up day with priority on the following dates in 2019-20:
- A non-student attendance holiday, such as January 20 and February 17
- Institute Days, currently scheduled for February 28 and June 5
- Emergency days at the end of the year, June 8-12
The District prioritizes make-up days in the midst of the regular calendar year to optimize student learning.
As a parent, you have the best perspective to determine the right course of action for your child based on your family circumstances. On severe weather days, you may decide to transport your child to school or determine that you want to keep your child at home, even if school is in session. We know that your child’s safety is your primary concern and will respect whatever decision you make.