TPS Inclement Weather Plan
Tahlequah Public Schools will be implementing some new procedures this winter. With the increase in snow and ice that we’ve received over the past few years, we have created a new Inclement Weather Plan. The new plan provides information about how decisions are made regarding the delay or possible closure of school, how information is disseminated to families, and what parents and guardians can expect.
When inclement weather is expected, transportation and operational personnel begin evaluating roads in Cherokee County (our district’s boundaries encompass 776 square miles) as early as 2 a.m. that morning. The new plan outlines how a decision will be made regarding what to do for the upcoming school day.
Our plan states that “the determination will be based on the status of arterials (major and minor), noting specific challenging areas; condition of school facilities; and existing and anticipated weather patterns as reported by weather outlets, various news stations and surrounding school districts.”
By 4:30 a.m., the team evaluating the road conditions will call the Executive Director of Operations with recommendations. The Executive Director will then work with the Superintendent to come to a decision for the day. The policy states, “When at all possible, decisions regarding school delays or closures are made the night before or by 5 a.m. for Tahlequah Public Schools.”
The District’s new Inclement Weather Plan also includes the possibility of running modified bus routes or snow routes when conditions are right. Desirable conditions for snow routes would include the identification of centrally located streets that are typically cleared first in the event of a snowstorm and the ability of Tahlequah Public Schools to clear school parking lots and sidewalks so that school can be safely conducted.
Additionally, we encourage families to have their own inclement weather plan in place that can be put into action on short notice. The district suggests that you make sure your children have an alternate place to stay if you must be at work on a day when school has been delayed or canceled. Please ensure that a neighbor, family member or center is able to care for or receive students, and please instruct students to report directly home or to their established care center immediately on arrival in the evening.
If a major snowfall or snowfall alert occurs while school is in session, and the Superintendent decides to release school early, the District’s Administration Team notifies families via the automated School Messenger system. The Administration Office also places a notice on the district’s website and alerts the media.
You can learn if schools are closed or delayed through a number of ways: the District website at www.tahlequahschools.org; a phone call sent from SchoolMessenger, the district’s automated notification system; mobile text alerts from www.lakescountry1021.com; local television stations, including the following: Channel 2 – KJRH, Channel 6 – KOTV, Channel 8 – KTUL, Channel 23 – KOKI. You may also check local radio stations, which include the following AM radio stations: 740 KRMG and FM radio stations: 102.1 KEOK.
Please be aware that there may be up to a 30-minute delay for television and radio stations to broadcast this information once they receive it from the District. In addition, some television and radio stations may modify the message slightly before broadcasting it.
If snow occurs during non-school hours, district staff will survey road conditions, monitor projected weather patterns, and provide a recommendation on the safety of transporting students. Every attempt will be made to finalize the decision to close school prior to the following day; however the final decision will again be made no later than 5 a.m. of the morning before school begins. The decision will again be communicated through the methods indicated in the first question. This early decision allows parents to plan their day.
If snow occurs during the school day – or if a major snowfall alert is issued by the weather service during the school day, district staff will evaluate the effect weather conditions have on safe transportation of students and will decide on one of the following courses of action: close schools early; maintain normal operating hours; or delay bus departure time until traffic conditions improve. The superintendent will decide by mid-day either to release school early or to continue to operate school for a full day.
If snowfall occurs – and schools are open on time and operating on regular routes – no announcement will be made.
During inclement weather the district may make one of the following four announcements: 1. schools open on time – buses operating on snow routes. 2. schools open two hours late – buses operating on snow routes.3. schools open two hours late – buses operating on regular routes. In the case of any of the previous three announcements, all school and program staff are expected to report at the regular time. (No hot breakfast will be served on late start days). 4. Schools closed.
If the District makes any of these four announcements, the following transportation routes may also be canceled for that day: before- and after-school activity routes; field/athletic trips; out-of-district routes.
Our new Inclement Weather Plan includes new transportation procedures for winter weather as well as another familiar site in Oklahoma: tornadoes. School administrators and the transportation department routinely monitor weather reports for the prediction of severe weather or announcements of a tornado warning.
It is the mission of the TPS Transportation Department “to safely deliver students to and from school and to promote the moral characteristics necessary for the children’s well-being.” This new Inclement Weather Plan is just one more way we are able to accomplish this mission and keep your children safe. We invite you to download our Inclement Weather Plan as well as our 2014-2015 Snow Routes or to visit the Tahlequah Public Schools Transportation webpage at tahlequahschools.org for more information.