School Cancellations and Delays

Once again we are facing those months when New England weather can be very unpredictable and severe. When the forecast predicts wintry weather, students hope for the coveted snow day, while at the same time their parents are hoping school will be open as usual! Despite these opposing ideas, as your superintendent, I am counting the days ensuring we meet the State-mandated 180 school days and nine hundred school hours safely and securely even in adverse weather conditions.

A snow day or late opening decision begins at 4:20 in the morning with a quick call to Litchfield’s Director of Public Works. No one knows better than our road crew the current condition of the roads. At 4:30, I participate in a conference call with weatherman John Bagioni and all of the area superintendents to discuss the road conditions in our various communities. Typically, John reviews the weather forecast for the day, and based on temperatures for the last 24 hours, predicts whether or not road surfaces will warm during the early morning hours. The superintendents make their decisions by approximately 5:15 a.m. based on our best estimates of conditions over the next two to twelve hours.

Occasionally, changing conditions may necessitate a later decision. If weather conditions fail to improve or worsen rapidly during the early morning, and if road and school site conditions warrant, I may have to follow an announced late opening with a cancellation. This announcement will usually be made by 6:30 a.m.

Regardless of the decision, the first action I take, after calling the bus company and the Public Works Director, is to begin notifications to teachers and parents through our in-house announcement systems, update the webpage, and finally communicate our decision to the radio and TV stations, each of which must be dialed separately and each with a unique notification process. Parents should continue to monitor the school district’s communications throughout the day for an early dismissal. Occasionally a delayed opening may become a cancellation.

In situations where it is predicted that weather and road conditions will improve during the morning, the opening of schools is delayed by two (2) hours. This means all bus routes and school openings will be two (2) hours later than usual. The balance of the school day, including dismissal, will be on a normal schedule. In the event that a delayed opening is called on a regularly-scheduled early release day, the early-release is canceled and students will remain in school until the normal afternoon dismissal time.

Although early closings are avoided whenever possible, in rare cases it may be necessary to dismiss school early due to unexpected deterioration of weather conditions. In these situations, an announcement will be issued by 10:30 a.m. and schools will be dismissed early.

Weather related early dismissals for Litchfield High School will occur at approximately 12:00 noon. Litchfield Intermediate School and Center School will be dismissed at approximately 1:00 p.m. unless emergency conditions require an earlier dismissal. Special announcements will be made in that event.

Families should have an emergency back-up plan in place in the event of a weather-related late opening or early closing. The school office should know of the plan. Children should also be informed so that children understand where they are headed in the event of an early closing.

Child care arrangements at home or on the same bus route should be made as soon as possible and well in advance of the late openings and early closings.

For safety and efficiency purposes, we encourage parents to have their children ride the school bus on a regular basis. This is especially important on days when the weather is bad. School parking areas tend to experience heavy traffic and become grid-locked when many parents drive to pick up their children during bad weather.

Please note that when school is cancelled, unless indicated otherwise, all activities and meetings for the day are also cancelled. The school buildings will be closed upon closing.

The decision to delay, cancel, or dismiss school early is usually a difficult one. The decision I make is not intended to prevent parents from making their own decisions about whether to send a child to school or keep a child home during severe weather. Based upon a personal assessment of weather reports, road conditions, and safety factors specific to their location in Litchfield or to their individual residence, parents may always make their own decision regarding their child’s school attendance during inclement weather.

Parents who have questions, special circumstances, or who require additional clarification should contact their school principal for assistance.

winter scene
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