An Explanation about Early Dismissals and Delayed Openings

The decision about whether or not to call for an Early Dismissal or announce a Delayed Opening in our school district is a complicated one.  The primary factor involved is insuring the safety of our students and staff.  But unlike many of our neighboring suburban districts, we must also consider the likelihood that, with an Early Dismissal, many of our students who have working parents will be returning to homes without adults present.  This was part of our thinking yesterday and why we deliberated long and hard about this decision.

Early Dismissals - Elementary Students

During an Early Dismissal, elementary school students who walk to school will be released only to their parent, guardian or other designated adult.  Elementary school children who ride buses will be dropped off at their bus stop only if there is an adult there to meet them.  Otherwise, the bus monitors and drivers have been instructed to return them to school.  If we cannot deliver our elementary school students to a parent, guardian or another designated adult, they will remain at school and be supervised by staff members until they are picked up.  We cannot, and do not, expect parents and guardians to be able to come to school immediately in order to pick up their children.  Staff will remain at each school to insure our children’s safety.  What we ask, and expect, is that parents and guardians make every effort to arrive at school as soon as possible.

Early Dismissals/Delayed Openings - Secondary Students

Early Dismissals and Delayed Openings pose a separate issue for secondary students, whose transportation is provided by the Bee-Line buses.  These are public buses and operate on a set schedule.  They are not able to adjust this schedule during severe weather conditions.  Therefore, if we have an Early Dismissal, we must approach our primary elementary carrier, Mile Square Transportation, and request their assistance by providing us with additional yellow buses.  They were able to do this yesterday afternoon, but with some delays due to a shortage of drivers.  In the future, we will remind secondary school parents that there will be no customized Bee-Line service available for students to get to school whenever we announce a Delayed Opening.  However, those Bee-Line buses which pass by NRHS and IEYMS on their regular routes should be available for our students even when we have a Delayed Opening.  There should be no issue with the Bee-Line buses for the trip home at normal times after the end of a delayed-opening school day.

ConnectEd (Robo Calls)

There were problems yesterday morning with our Connect Ed communication system.  Based on an updated weather forecast which indicated that the snow would be arriving earlier than initially predicted and the accumulation would be higher at dismissal time, we decided at 10:20 AM to call an Early Dismissal.  We had hoped to send out the Connect Ed telephone calls, e-mail messages and texts by 11:00 AM, but were delayed in doing so.  Most parents were informed no earlier than 11:36 AM of the Early Dismissal at noon.  This is unacceptable and for this we apologize.  In the future, we want parents to have the reassurance that, no matter the extent of the advanced notice, our elementary students will be held safely in their own school until they can be picked up.  We acknowledge that several aspects of our work could have been managed more effectively over the past two days and we will take these lessons to heart.

-Jeffrey Korostoff, Ed.D. Interim Superintendent 1/22/2014