Calamity days are used to account for school/District closings due to inclement weather, utility service disruption or other emergency issues that might compromise the safety of students or staff. Under Board of Education Policy and in compliance with Ohio Department of Education (ODE) regulations, Groveport Madison Schools can use up to five calamity days before the District must make up days in which schools have been closed.
WHO MAKES THE DECISION TO CLOSE SCHOOLS?
Under Ohio law, the Superintendent is responsible for the final decision on school closings or changes in the schedule for the day.
WHAT FACTORS ARE CONSIDERED WHEN MAKING THE DECISION TO CLOSE SCHOOLS?
While school closures are generally a result of poor weather conditions, other factors also can impact our decision to close schools. The following issues are taken into consideration when contemplating a school closure, delay, or early dismissal:
WHEN IS THE DECISION MADE TO CLOSE FOR THE DAY?
- Building conditions, such as whether the buildings have electricity, heat and water
- The ability to clear ice and snow from school parking lots and sidewalks
- Information on road conditions from our transportation staff and local officials
- Whether the conditions are expected to worsen or improve throughout the day
- Ambient temperature and wind chill factors
- Weather forecast
We make every effort to make our decision by 5:15 a.m. so we can notify staff, parents and students, as well as inform local radio and TV stations and post the decision on our website (www.gocruisers.org).
HOW ARE STAFF AND PARENTS NOTIFIED OF A CLOSING?
As soon as a decision has been made to have a late start or to close for the day, an auto-dialer message is sent to all students and staff. Information will also be posted on the District’s website (gocruisers.org). The District’s Communications Office also will notify area news and radio stations (see list on page 4).
WILL THE DISTRICT CLOSE SCHOOLS LATER IN THE MORNING IF CONDITIONS WORSEN?
Because District buses begin picking up students as early as 6:30 a.m., we cannot reverse an early-morning decision for schools to remain open – even if weather conditions worsen throughout the early morning. Realizing that many parents will have already left for work, believing that their child was picked up for school, we will bring students to school and determine our next steps once we know that the students have arrived at school and everyone is safe.
DO SCHOOLS CLOSE AUTOMATICALLY WHEN FORECASTERS PREDICT BAD WEATHER?
Because weather forecasts are not always consistent or accurate, it is impractical to rely solely on the forecast. While we prefer to make our decision based on visible or reported conditions, we do consider forecasts to determine if conditions are expected to improve or worsen throughout the day. The District monitors a wide variety of forecast sources to get as accurate a prediction as possible to help us make the best possible decision.
WILL BUSES RUN ON-TIME DURING INCLEMENT WEATHER?
When the District’s schools are in session, all bus stops will be serviced, even during inclement weather. Buses may run late for a variety of reasons, including traffic and road conditions. Parents should ensure his/her child is wearing suitable clothing for the day’s weather in the event the child must wait at the bus stop for a longer than usual time. Parents also should have a contingency plan in the event that a bus is running extremely late or breaks down before reaching the bus stop. Make your child aware of what he/she should do or whom to call if the bus does not arrive. Identify a neighbor, friend, or a reliable “student buddy” that can help in the event of an unexpected emergency.
WILL SCHOOLS AUTOMATICALLY CLOSE WHEN THE TEMPERATURE IS BELOW ZERO?
If the ambient temperature falls below zero (0) degrees Fahrenheit, the Superintendent will determine if it is safe for schools to open. We will notify parents and staff using the District’s auto-dialer system and the information will be on our website and social media outlets. We also notify area news and radio stations.
Regardless of the outdoor temperature, parents should ensure that their child is dressed appropriately for expected weather conditions when school is in session.
AT WHAT WIND CHILL FACTOR WILL THE SCHOOLS BE CLOSED?
When the wind chill factor approaches minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the Superintendent will determine if it is safe for schools to open.
Please understand that with numerous media and weather sources reporting ambient and wind chill information, there will often be conflicting or inconsistent information reported. We will do our best to make the decision based on the information we have at hand.
WHEN SCHOOLS CLOSE FOR THE DAY, ARE AFTER SCHOOL ACTIVITIES CANCELED?
Generally speaking, evening activities, events, and athletic practices are canceled when schools are closed for the day; however, because weather conditions may improve over the course of the day there are occasions when an event might occur even when schools have been closed. This is particularly true at the high school level. The District will confirm whether evening events will take place by posting information on our website and through our social media outlets. Please monitor these sources of information for the latest news.
WHEN SCHOOLS CLOSE FOR THE DAY, IS THE EXTENDED DAY PROGRAM CLOSED AS WELL?
Yes; when the District has canceled classes for the day, before and after-school programs will be closed as well.
DOES THE DISTRICT DELAY SCHOOL STARTING TIMES WHEN CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED TO IMPROVE?
The District has a two-hour delay process that may be used when conditions are either questionable or when they are expected to improve in the early-morning hours.
PLEASE NOTE: There are times when a decision to delay the start of the day is updated and school is then canceled.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE DISTRICT HAS TO RELEASE STUDENTS EARLY?
While we do everything possible to avoid sending students home before their scheduled dismissal time, weather and/or other factors (such as power outages and water line breaks) can cause the District to “Early Release” students. We will send an auto-dialer message to all parent contact numbers. We will also notify the media and post information on the District’s website and its social media outlets. We urge parents to pay close attention to our website, social media outlets, as well as radio and television stations for timely updates. Students will not be able to use school telephones to make arrangements, so please have an emergency plan in place in the event of an unexpected dismissal.
WHAT SHOULD I DO TO PREPARE FOR AN EARLY DISMISSAL OF MY STUDENT?
All families should make arrangements for their children in the event of a school closure or early dismissal.
WHAT IF I BELIEVE IT IS UNSAFE FOR MY HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT TO DRIVE TO SCHOOL?
- Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home, and how to contact the parent, guardian, or another adult with whom there are back-up arrangements.
- Parent contact information, including work and cell phone numbers, should be kept up-to-date with the school office
- If you are instructed to pick up your student at a location other than their school due to a school closure, you will be asked to present photo ID before the student will be released to your care.
- In cold weather students should be dressed appropriately for the conditions, as it is impossible to predict when a school might have to be evacuated due to an emergency.
If parents believe it is unsafe for their high school student to drive to or from school because of weather conditions, the student is welcome to ride the bus assigned to his/her neighborhood. Students can also walk or be driven by a parent or another adult of the parents’ choosing.
WHAT IF I BELIEVE IT’S UNSAFE FOR MY CHILD TO COME TO SCHOOL BECAUSE OF WEATHER CONDITIONS?
Since parents and guardians are the legal representative for their child, they can decide what is best for their child with respect to safety concerns. The option to keep a child home from school when the parent considers the weather conditions to be excessively dangerous is always at the parents’ discretion, and the school understands and respects the decision. However, if school is in session, the parent should notify the school that their child will be remaining at home on a “Parent-Requested Absence.” The student will be counted as absent (unexcused) for the day.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN PUBLIC SERVICES OR UTILITIES ARE DISRUPTED?
Due to circumstances beyond our control schools may experience power outages or other emergencies, such as gas leaks, water service disruption, etc. Should events of this nature occur, District personnel will make every effort to provide for student and staff comfort and safety while the school continues operate.
Sometimes, power outages make it impossible to maintain optimum conditions within the school, but the District does not want to send students home unsupervised or to a home that is also potentially without electricity, heat, water, or parental supervision. If the Superintendent determines that school cannot continue for the duration of the day, the District will notify parents via the emergency calling system. We will also notify the media and post an announcement on the District’s website and our social media outlets.
OUTDOOR RECESS GUIDELINES
When making the decision as to whether to have outdoor recess, the Director of Student Services and/or the school principal considers the following factors, ambient temperature, wind chill factor, humidity, children’s age, length of time outdoors, adequacy of clothing of the children, and condition of the playground. In general, if the exterior ambient temperature is 20 degrees Fahrenheit or less, recess will take place indoors.
A NOTE TO PARENTS, STUDENTS, AND STAFF
Please know that we do our best to keep our students and staff safe and comfortable at all times. When it comes to the decision of whether schools remain open or closed, there is no perfect decision upon which everyone will agree. We hope this information helps everyone understand the process that we use to make the best possible decision for everyone connected with our schools.
DISTRICT WEBSITE AND SOCIAL MEDIA INFORMATION SOURCES
District website – www.gocruisers.org
Facebook – GroveportMadisonSchools
Twitter – @GMSchools
KEEP CONTACT INFORMATION UPDATED WITH YOUR CHILD'S SCHOOL
One of the most import things you can do is to make sure your contact information (email and phone number(s)) are up-to-date. We use the contact information on file in our Student Information System to contact you in case of an emergency or a change in the schedule. If you do not receive a call or message from the District on a day in which the schools are on a delay or classes are canceled, you should contact your child’s school to verify you contact information is correct.