Washoe County School District Prepares for Winter Weather
As the winter season approaches, the Washoe County School District (WCSD) is issuing a reminder to parents and students about District transportation and safety procedures during cold weather and snowy conditions. This is an ongoing effort by WCSD to review snow day procedures and ensure that parents and students receive accurate, timely information about alternate starts to the school day and cancellations.
"The safety of our students is our primary concern at all times, but especially when the weather turns cold and road conditions are hazardous," said Director of Transportation Rick Martin. "We want to remind all of our parents and students that we have safety procedures in place and that we are always working to make sure the roads are safe enough to bring our students to school and home again."
"In addition to our own efforts, we also rely heavily on other motorists to watch for children, drive slowly when the roads are slippery, and stay off of cell phones and other devices that can distract them," said WCSD Emergency Manager Tracy Moore. "We want our students to stay safe on their way to and from school."
The unpredictability of winter weather in the Truckee Meadows can prove challenging, but transportation officials begin monitoring storms the evening before a school day, watching local forecasts about the following day's conditions. Transportation officials begin driving the bus routes at 3:30 a.m., gathering specific information about conditions in order to determine whether the roads will allow safe travel during and after snowstorms. They also collaborate with city and county services, law enforcement agencies, the National Weather Service, and other regional partners in order to make informed decisions about whether school can proceed normally or whether alternate starts should be ordered.
A final decision about schedules is made by the superintendent of schools based on recommendations provided by administrative staff in WCSD transportation, facilities management, and logistics and operations divisions. That decision—whether to hold a normal schedule, delay classes, or close schools— is determined by 5 a.m.
If classes are delayed or schools are closed, there are a number of ways in which parents can access the information. WCSD sends a recorded call through Blackboard Connect to the homes of all students and staff affected by the decision. Parents can also call the Parent Hotline (334-8373) and check the District website (www.washoecountyschools.org), Twitter, and Facebook pages. District personnel contact local media outlets with the most current information. This District-wide communication effort concludes before 6 a.m. in order to allow parents enough time to plan their day.
"The decision about whether to order alternate starts or cancel school altogether is not a decision we make lightly," Martin said. "Keeping our students safe is our highest possible priority. We are committed to their education, and their safety comes first."