In any weather emergency, the main objective is to provide protection and a safe environment for students.
Historically, the three metro area school districts, Sauk Rapids-Rice, Sartell-St. Stephen, and St. Cloud Area Schools have worked together to make decisions regarding weather related emergencies. While the three districts will continue to collaborate regarding weather related closings and/or delays, this year due to COVID-19 and varying Learning Models in each district, reporting changes in scheduling due to weather will look a little different.
What is Different?
This year, each district will announce changes to their individual district/school schedules separately due to varying learning models across our district and district buildings as well as more than 600 Sauk Rapids-Rice students who are Distance Learning-Family Choice. The way the district makes decisions regarding late starts, early releases, and all-day closures will need to be evaluated at each incidence and a decision made and communicated in conjunction with the current learning model(s).
Local media will hear from each district separately regarding how a weather emergency will affect their school day.
This may require additional information from a learning model perspective.
Parents and guardians should look first for weather information at the Sauk Rapids-Rice Public School level, and then at their student(s) learning model level.
What is the Same?
Area superintendents will still communicate with each other on weather-related closures or delays. Their collaboration with regard to road conditions and weather forecasts is important to the safety and wellbeing of all area students, staff and families due to the districts’ proximity to each other and shared community amenities within the metro area.
Superintendents will continue to rely on the expertise of the National Weather Service and St. Cloud State University meteorologists for weather forecasts, and both city and county officials for information related to road conditions. We are appreciative of professors at the university who localize forecasts and advise the school districts on closing decisions.
Minnesota weather is sometimes difficult to predict and it is essential that parents and guardians anticipate and prepare for school closings, delayed openings and early dismissals.
The National Weather Service and other forecasting agencies issue various winter weather statements, watches, and warnings. We use these statements, coupled with the information provided by St. Cloud State University, to determine if weather conditions may cause a late start, full day cancelation or an early dismissal from school.
Heavy snowfall, ice storms, extreme cold (see below) and strong winds are not the only contributors to an emergency weather situation. Fog can be equally dangerous. While the sun may be shining in one area, visibility may be reduced to a few feet in another location, creating a potential hazard.
Emergency Closing Procedures
The superintendent will make every effort to announce school closings or late starts by 10:00 p.m. the night before severe weather and/or as soon as information becomes available.
When a morning emergency closing or a late start is required, every effort will be made to make and communicate the decision by 5:30 a.m.
In the event of an early dismissal or a school closing, student activities and practices, Adult Basic Education, early childhood classes, and Area Learning Center classes will typically be canceled.
As the weather turns colder, we often receive phone calls and emails with questions from staff, families, and the media regarding possible school closings due to extreme cold. Student safety is always at the forefront of our decision-making. School closing decisions are rarely easy and require much communication between the district, transportation, city or county officials and weather experts.
In school districts throughout Minnesota, decisions are based on information provided by many sources, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (N.O.A.A.). The N.O.A.A. provides a Wind Chill Chart. The chart details the combination of wind speed and temperature to determine the amount of time it could take to potentially suffer from frostbite. When the combination of temperature and wind speed falls into the 5-Minute Threshold, school districts typically delay or close schools.
We monitor the weather closely, but we do not usually make final decisions about delaying or closing school until morning. We always attempt to make the decisions as early as possible. For this reason, when deciding school closings due to weather, we may wait to obtain the most current weather information to make the best decision.
Communication about weather-related information
Skylert is a great communication tool for families and allows us to communicate important information as soon as a decision is made. You can also receive updates via our website and social media. Sign-up for Skylert or alter your preferences HERE.