Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Inclement Weather: Open, Late, or Closed?

Today marks the fourth day of school we’ve missed this year due to inclement weather in the Camas School District. On a day like today, where there is well over a foot of snow in some areas in Camas and trace amounts in others, I thought it would be a good time to cover the process involved in determining a school closure day due to inclement weather.

On a morning when the threat of hazardous conditions exists, district staff members begin driving bus routes around 4:00 a.m. to examine road conditions. We consider weather-related situations that students and staff will face as well as the forecast for later in the day. We also monitor the road conditions through our county’s web site. Our school district covers a large region with remote areas and steep terrain in places. While roads may be passable in town, conditions may be very different just a few miles away—in fact, the elevation within the district boundaries varies from 50 to 2,500 feet. Before we close schools or delay start times, we seek answers to the questions below:
  • Can we ensure that buses are able to navigate streets safely?
  • Will students be safe waiting for buses, driving, or walking to school?
  • What are the predicted weather conditions later in the school day so we can also ensure students a safe return home?
  • If we start school late (e.g. two-hour late start), will conditions be substantially improved?

Once we do make the decision to close schools or delay the start times, we inform parents, students and staff. Emergency and school closure information is communicated to the local media via the FlashAlert system. The district web site displays the information sent to media by about 5:00 AM. Families can access the FlashAlert posting from the district’s Emergency Info page by clicking the snowflake image on the district home page or by clicking this link:


The district’s Automated Notification System also calls district families at their primary number around 6:00 AM to announce late start or closure information. If snow routes are in effect, the message indicates so.

Decisions are made with a great amount of thought and information about the conditions throughout the district, with our number one priority being student safety. If you have any questions, please let me know.


Doreen McKercher
Public Information Officer