kids in winter jacketsWinter weather is fast approaching, so we want to take this opportunity to provide you with information about how decisions are made and communicated when the weather is severe. The safety of our students is our top priority, and we always follow a set of guidelines to make decisions about whether school will be open or closed.

The district must make a decision that is the best for all students. We realize, at times, our decisions may not fit with your individual circumstances. Therefore, we encourage and strongly support you in making the decision that is best for your child(ren). You are always the best judge of your child’s health and safety.

We try to keep schools open
When schools close, many families have issues with child care. As a result, we try to keep schools open if it’s safe to do so. However, as we stated at the top of this letter, parents can always make the decision to keep their child(ren) at home in bad weather.

How do we decide whether or not to close due to snow, ice and/or extreme cold?
The district monitors weather conditions beginning early in the morning and consults with meteorologists, the City of Madison, Madison Police and transportation providers. In fall 2015, we asked families to complete a winter weather survey in order to collect data regarding family preferences for school closings during winter weather cold days. The survey found that parents prefer that MMSD close schools before temperatures reach a Wind Chill Warning (minus 35 degrees or colder).
In addition to the family survey data, we reviewed our district-wide attendance data by demographic groups. Families' preferences are also supported by our district-wide attendance data. As a result, we are moving the school closing guidelines so that we will consider closing schools at negative 25 degrees.
The survey also asked families about the time of the closing announcement. The majority of our parents surveyed want earlier notice of school closings, with the most commonly requested notice time being 9 pm the night before extreme cold is predicted. Therefore, we are changing our internal procedures so that we make every attempt to make the decision at 9 pm the night before so families have more time to plan.

How can you find out if schools are closed?
On days when the weather is bad, listen to any local radio or television station for information about school closing. If you provided your email address and/or mobile phone number during enrollment, you will be contacted in the morning regarding a school closing via email, phone and text message. Opt in now to receive MMSD text messages. You may also check our website.

When schools are closed, are other activities canceled as well?
When Madison schools are closed for the day, it also means that all activities scheduled in school buildings for that day are canceled, including all MSCR programs, after school programs and athletics.

Why aren’t schools dismissed early on days when the weather is bad?
Generally, once the school day has started, MMSD schools will not dismiss early to avoid complications with transportation and child care arrangements. However, if your schedule allows and if you feel your child will be safer at home, you can pick your child up before the end of the school day.

We appreciate your understanding of the difficulties in making this decision, and your support in helping your child get to school safely on winter days. Please know that the safety of all of our students is our first priority when making all weather-related decisions.

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