Protocols and Communication for Inclement WeatherAny time there is a concern for an inclement weather event, we use the following protocol to help drive the decision-making process to either delay the start of school or cancel school. The concern for student and staff safety always serves as the main driver when these decisions are made, and we always strive to err on the side of caution. Each weather incident is unique, and will demand unique considerations.
We know that when we delay the start of school or cancel the school day completely, it has a significant impact on families. We also want to ensure that we are making decisions that minimize any negative impact on student learning. In other words, when there is no safety concern in getting to school, we want to make sure that our students are at school. This is the balance we constantly weigh when making school delay or school closure decisions.
How is the public notified?
We post the announcement on the district website, www.pfisd.net, and social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) and send texts, emails and automated phone calls to parents of registered PfISD students and staff. (That’s one reason we always need up-to-date contact information.) In addition, we notify local media so they can broadcast the updates. The district does not send out emails or other forms of communication if there are no changes to the regular school day.
When is the decision made?
We try to make the decision by 5:30 a.m. or earlier the day of the incident so we can notify local media and post the information on our website and start the automated texts, emails and phone calls by 6 a.m. If we believe that the forecasts won’t change during the overnight hours, we may make the decision to delay school or cancel school the night before. Our first buses leave the transportation center around 5:45 a.m., so we work diligently to make the decision as soon as possible. Finally, we know that waiting much later in the morning limits parents’ options when they are making childcare decisions.How do we make our decision?
We make our decision to open or close schools in bad weather based on careful analysis of as many relevant factors as we can gather, including:
Who makes the decision?
- Numerous consultations with our local emergency management consortia and weather experts. In the days leading up to a possible weather incident, we monitor local forecasts, both in the evening before the incident and in the early morning hours. We will talk to both Williamson County and Travis County, as we are split between the two.
- Information on road conditions from transportation staff and local law enforcement officials. We must give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads in the district. Even if the street in front of your house looks clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be dangerous. In addition, we must consider the risk to our least experienced drivers, our high school students.
- Amount of snow or ice accumulated and projected accumulations. We also consider whether or not precipitation is continuing.
- Building conditions, such as whether there is any interruption in our buildings’ electricity and heat.
- Parking lot conditions. We try to monitor the clearing and treating of parking lots and sidewalks.
- Temperature and wind chill. Some of our students walk to and from school and some have to wait outside in the elements at their bus stop.
- Weather predictions. We prefer not making our decision solely based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate, but sometimes it is unavoidable.If this is the case, we may make the decision the evening before.
- Consideration to what area school districts and universities are doing. While every district has its unique situations, we do stay in touch with other districts to help guide decision-making.
The superintendent is responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors and recommendations from district staff, including the facilities and transportation departments.
How does PfISD’s automated calling system work?
PfISD uses School Messenger, which is a communication system that calls parents’ phone numbers when the district needs to relay an important message. Parents provide the phone numbers in this database when they fill out the student registration/emergency card. Parents should receive the PfISD automated phone call at the phone number that parents indicated as primary contact (usually a home number), in addition to the other numbers parents listed.
During inclement weather (such as delays or cancellations due to icy conditions), the School Messenger system will attempt to call phone numbers for both primary and secondary contacts.
If district officials mark the call as an “emergency” then ALL contact phone numbers for a student will be called with the same message. This would include a parent’s home, work, cell or any phone numbers they have listed. In addition, an email message will be sent to all email addresses for the student. If the parent has opted in for SMS text messages, they will receive a text message also (but only in cases of emergency will texts be used).Read more about the PfISD’s text messaging system
If I know bad weather is expected in our area, what should I do?
Because weather updates can happen rapidly and to avoid miscommunication, please check the PfISD website at www.pfisd.net for the latest accurate information.
How do I find out if my child’s after-school activity has been canceled?
For campus-related information, such as revised class/bell schedules please check the specific campus website.
How will the district make up missed days?
If the district must cancel school for a day, the first (in calendar year order) “bad weather day” designated on the PfISD School Year Calendar will become an instructional day. If the district must subsequently cancel school for another day, the second “bad weather day” designated on the calendar will also become an instructional day. If school is canceled for more than two days, the district will either add days at the end of the school year or follow directives from the Texas Education Agency.
If school is delayed due to weather, what happens to Pre-K classes or breakfast meals being served?
If PfISD starts school later in the day due to bad weather, there will be no morning Pre-K offered that day. Also, no breakfast meals will be offered for that day.
PfISD Cold Weather Outdoor Recess Policy
Outdoor recess is an integral part of the school day and provides students with a break from structured classroom time. Recess promotes opportunities for physical exercise and social development.
Children are expected to come to school prepared to participate in outdoor recess. When winter weather conditions exist, it is essential that children have the proper clothing to prevent hypothermia. Hypothermia may result if the body’s heat loss is greater than its rate of producing heat. Appropriate outerwear such as a pair of gloves or mittens, a warm coat, and hat is essential for healthy and safe outdoor play.
The outside temperature including wind chill helps to determine cold weather safety. When the outside temperature including wind chill is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, recess will be held indoors.