As early as possible, the superintendent makes a decision to take one of the following actions: open schools on schedule, delay the opening of schools or cancel school for the day. Information about school closings or delays is shared with the public in several ways:
- Notification calls – parents/guardians receive a mass notification call from the superintendent (for a districtwide schedule change) or principal (for an individual school schedule change);
- Website – notice will be posted in the banner of the district website at District196.org;
- District Twitter (@ISD196Schools) and Facebook (@District196) accounts, and
- TV and Radio – Twin Cities television stations and WCCO-AM Radio (830) are notified about a schedule change for District 196 schools.
If school is canceled
If school is canceled for the entire day, the following activities are also canceled:
- All daytime and after-school Community Education activities (Early Childhood Family Education [ECFE], Early Childhood Special Education [ECSE] and Adult Basic Education [ABE] programs);
- Elementary school after-school and evening activities, and
- Middle school after-school and evening activities.
- School-age Care (SAC) will be canceled when there is a snow-related school cancellation; SAC will be held at predetermined locations if there is a temperature-related school cancellation.
- Decisions about whether to hold evening high school and evening Community Education activities are made by mid-afternoon and communicated on the district website and information line by 3 p.m.
If the start of school is delayed
If the start of school is delayed, all school buses, except Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) buses, operate on a normal but delayed schedule and the following activities are canceled:
- Morning and afternoon early childhood special education classes (ECSE);
- Morning Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes;
- Morning and afternoon Connections Preschool classes;
- Morning and afternoon Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes; and
- Morning Community Education activities, including SAC.
Other school schedule changes
If severe weather develops or is predicted during the school day, schedules may change in one or more of the following ways:
- Afternoon Connections Preschool, after-school Community Education activities, ABE, ECSE, ECFE and SAC may be canceled;
- School may be dismissed early, and/or
- Middle school and high school activity bus routes may be canceled.
Early dismissal will only take place in the event of an emergency. We encourage all parents to have a plan in place should their child need to come home early from school due to weather or an emergency. In developing your plan, keep in mind that in certain emergency situations students may be immediately evacuated and may not be able to go back into the school to get keys or other belongings from their lockers.
How decisions are made to cancel or delay school
Decisions to cancel or shorten the regular school day and after-school activities are made by the superintendent in consultation with other staff. Although severe weather conditions are the most common reason for a change of school schedule, other events such as a utility outage or malfunction could necessitate the delay, cancellation or early dismissal of school.
The over-riding concern in making the decision to cancel or delay the start of school is the safety of our students, staff and others in the community. Beyond that, the process becomes more complicated. The fundamental decision is whether students and staff will be safer with school in session or canceled for the day. Several factors are considered, including the following:
- Road conditions are extremely important and must be considered throughout the 110 square miles that make up our district, including rural areas where blowing snow can severely limit visibility for drivers;
- School buses can drive through very deep snow, but they can’t make it through to school if intersections are clogged with stuck vehicles;
- Wind chill is also important, especially if there is the possibility of buses running late and students having to wait a longer time at their bus stop;
- The weather forecast for the remainder of the day is also considered, as well as reports from our cities as to when key roads will be plowed, and
- Finally, the actions of other districts in the area are considered.
When severe winter weather occurs, the following steps are taken to examine weather conditions and decide whether to delay or cancel the opening of school:
- By 3:45 a.m., district Transportation Department employees are driving on key roads throughout the district and contacting city and county highway departments to determine if the roads are safe for travel.
- By 5 a.m., the Transportation Department coordinator contacts the superintendent with information on weather and road conditions and to discuss whether there may be a need to change the school schedule.