Whether or Not to Close Schools
WHAT IS CONSIDERED WHEN MAKING THE DECISION TO CLOSE HALLSVILLE SCHOOLS?
The determination of whether or not to close schools for inclement weather, for utility outages or other unforeseen circumstances, is a complex process dependent upon a number of factors, with the ultimate desired outcome being of what is deemed best for students and their safety.
HISD’s campus administrative team members are involved in making decisions. When national and local weather forecasters indicate approaching inclement weather, discussions begin and plans are put in motion. When possible, that planning begins 48-72 hours ahead of the anticipated arrival of any conditions that might affect school operations.
Personal observation of the condition of roads in the district is conducted by the HISD’s superintendent, assistant superintendent, HISD Chief of Police and night security. Areas included for observation are the interstate, various bridges, highways, farm roads, as well as less-traveled back roads. Along with these observations, reports from other law enforcement agencies and TXDOT are considered as to whether they have reports of or have observed icy, flooded or impassable roads.
In addition, other factors are considered:
- Time that precipitation begins to accumulate and the amount;
- Building conditions (e.g., whether schools have power and heat or A/C);
- Parking lot conditions;
- Temperature and wind-chill;
- Whether driving hazards or other conditions in the area may prevent employees from arriving for duty.
Weather patterns change quickly and road conditions vary among school districts. Decisions made at one school may not necessarily match up with considerations in a neighboring district.
The administrative team collaborates in person or electronically to compile as much accurate information as possible in order to determine the best strategy for Hallsville ISD. There may be some instances when the forecast is not firm enough the day before the onset of bad weather and further assessments must be made throughout the night, thus requiring a decision to be delayed until 5:30 a.m. the next morning.
Over 3,000 of our 4,800 students are eligible to ride the buses each day. While riding the bus is by far the safest form of transportation, decisions to delay or close schools must also consider those students who are driven to school by their parents, teenagers, our most inexperienced drivers who drive themselves, and the students who are driven by other teenage students.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION?
The HISD Superintendent of Schools makes the final decision.
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE?
HISD staff members are sensitive to the fact that to cancel or delay classes upsets many family schedules, especially those of working parents. In a perfect world, when enough information is available, a decision would be made at least 24 hours prior to the onset of inclement weather so parents can make alternative child care arrangements. At the latest hour, a decision is announced by 5:30 a.m. on the day of dismissal.
Also, school closings may occur during the school day. Every weather event is different and unfortunately, forecasts made by humans are sometimes wrong. Mother Nature does not factor anyone’s professional reputation or convenience into when a bad weather system will move into our area or how it will affect school operations.
WHY NOT CLOSE SCHOOL AS SOON AS OTHER SCHOOLS ANNOUNCE THEIR DECISION?
Every school district is somewhat geographically different and has different transportation challenges. While the superintendent maintains contact with neighboring districts and their potential plans, decisions in those districts are not a deciding factor for HISD.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE WEATHER WORSENS DURING THE SCHOOL DAY?
HISD tries to avoid unexpected early dismissals. However, on occasion, early dismissal is unavoidable and parents must make arrangements for supervision of their children. It is important for parents to plan for this eventuality. It is important to be able to reach parents and designated childcare providers during daytime hours. Please make sure the district has accurate telephone numbers and emergency contact information on file.
For “instant messages” from the school, your primary telephone number in our system should be your cell number. To ensure accuracy of your information, please check with your campus PEIMS Coordinator or check in the “Family Access” section of the HISD website (click here to go to Family Access).
When it is necessary to dismiss children during the regular school day, the district will contact local media and provide as much advance notice as possible.
WHAT IF I DECIDE TO KEEP MY CHILD AT HOME?
If a decision is made for schools to remain open, parents/guardians have the option to keep their children home for health and safety reasons. Parents/guardians are ultimately responsible for making this decision.
If you decide to keep your child home in any situation, including inclement weather, you should call the school to report your child’s absence. A written explanation of the absence must be provided to the homeroom teacher upon return to the school within three (3) days. Failure to provide a written explanation of the absence within three (3) days will result in an unlawful or unexcused absence.
HOW IS THE PUBLIC NOTIFIED OF THE DECISION?
When the decision is made to close school, details will be posted immediately on the school district website and the automated calling system will begin calling the numbers listed in the HISD notification system. Also, local news media will be contacted.
ARE EMPLOYEES ON DUTY WHEN SCHOOLS ARE CLOSED?
Under normal circumstances when schools are closed, no instructional staff report for duty. There may be rare exceptions. The maintenance supervisor will determine whether maintenance staff report for duty, depending on the circumstances. No employees are paid for the day when schools are closed. They are paid when days are made up.
ARE EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES CANCELLED OR DELAYED?
Consideration of field conditions, travel distance of teams, road conditions, and availability of officials are among a list of issues discussed with coaches of both teams in making a decision. Final decisions are made by the athletic directors of both schools. There may be situations where the UIL state office may be consulted. On rare occasions, superintendents of the respective schools may be required to make a final decision.