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:
- Website – our website is the first place information is posted, notice will be posted in the banner of the district website at District196.org;
- 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);
- 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.
Snow and cold weather events
Decisions to cancel or delay the start of school due to snow are made by 5:30 a.m. the day of and are based largely on road conditions and the ability of school buses to complete their routes without significant delays.
Decisions to cancel school due to cold weather are made by 6:30 p.m. the night before. Similar to guidelines followed by other area school districts, District 196 schools will close if the National Weather Service forecast for 6 a.m. the following morning calls for:
- Air temperature of -25 degrees Fahrenheit or colder, OR
- Wind chill of -35 degrees Fahrenheit or colder.
If school is canceled
If school is canceled for the entire day, the following activities are also canceled:
- Connections Preschool classes;
- Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) classes;
- Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes;
- Adult Basic Education (ABE) classes;
- All Community Education daytime and after-school activities;
- 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 school cancellation for cold weather (only for families enrolled in SAC).
- Decisions about whether to hold high school and Community Education evening activities are made by mid-afternoon and communicated on the district website, social media 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 ECSE buses, operate on a normal but delayed schedule and the following activities are canceled:
- Morning and afternoon ECSE classes;
- Morning ABE classes;
- Morning and afternoon Connections Preschool classes;
- Morning and afternoon 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.
Parents and guardians always have the choice to keep their child at home if they are concerned about sending their child to school because of weather conditions.