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Washington Central Supervisory Union 32

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11/29/16 Weather & School Protocols

Dear Washington Central Educational Community –

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for your flexibility and caution during the inclement weather we experienced this morning.  I would also like to assure you that the safety of the students is our highest priority. 

This morning we were under the impression that the rain would come a bit later in the day and that the icy driving conditions would be happening while students were safely at school.  As we all know, the rain started earlier than we had thought.  As of 10:00 am this morning all the buses had brought the students safely to school.

I would also like to explain how we make determinations about school cancellations, delayed starts, and early releases in general.  Within 72 hours of a potential inclement weather event, we start to receive information from both the Burlington Office of the National Weather Service and local meteorologist Roger Hill warning us that there might be a chance of difficult driving conditions.  The day before the event, we receive updates from both of our weather services with storm models that predict the timing, the intensity, the duration, and the types of precipitation and the temperature.  Approximately 10 hours before we have to make the school closing decision, we receive an updated model package and check-in with the town road crews to ascertain their readiness for the storm.  On the day of the event, at 4:30 am, we start a communication protocol with the town road crews, the bus company and Roger Hill to see if anything has changed from the night before.  By 5:40 am we have to make the determination to run our regular schedule or to delay or cancel school.  If we are any later than this time, the bus company and the town road crews cannot ensure that students will arrive at school safely.

If the predictions are different than what a bus driver experiences while on the road, as was the case this morning, our drivers are instructed to stop driving the bus and wait for support from the town road crews to help improve the driving conditions.  At the same time, the buses are in constant communication with both the bus garage and the supervisory union office. 

At all times this morning I was totally confident that the students on the buses were safe, since I knew the bus drivers would follow this protocol and, indeed, some of them needed to employ this strategy. 

I would like thank the staff of Washington Central, First Student and the town road crews for their flexibility in supporting the students and starting the school day.  As they always do, they made the needs of the students their first priority and ensured that everyone was safe and had their needs met.

If you have any further questions of concerns, please let me know.

Bill Kimball
Superintendent of Schools
Washington Central Supervisory Union