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Friday, October 24, 2014

Emergency District/School Closure


There are occasions when the superintendent may order the closure of schools and offices due to inclement weather or other emergency circumstances. APS makes every effort to communicate closure decisions in a timely fashion in order for parents and guardians to make other arrangements for the care of their children. But there may be occasions when, due to the nature of the situation, there may be a short window between the decision to close district schools and offices and the scheduled start time. 


How is the decision made to close district schools and offices?

The APS Operations Division is responsible for continuously monitoring conditions that potentially impact district schools and offices, including weather, road/travel conditions, security concerns or safety issues. During events that potentially impact normal operations, various Operations Division departments, including Security, Transportation and Custodial Services, will assess conditions and make a recommendation to the superintendent about closures. The superintendent is responsible for making the final decision about closing district schools and offices.  The decision to close or delay the opening of school will be determined as soon as there is enough information to evaluate whether the roadway conditions are safe for transportation to transport students and for staff to report to work. 


When are decisions normally made to close schools and offices due to inclement weather?

The superintendent strives to make closure decisions as soon as possible in order to give parents and guardians sufficient time to make alternative arrangements for the care of their children. In most cases, these decisions are made prior to 5 a.m. on the day of the closure to allow sufficient time to notify everyone. However, there may be occasions when it may not be possible to provide a lot of notice prior to closure.



What factors go into decisions to close district schools and offices?

The safety and security of students and employees are the primary factors taken into consideration when making closure decisions. District Operation departments – Transportation, Security and Custodial Services – officials continuously monitor weather, road and travel conditions and other factors in making recommendations to the superintendent regarding the closure of schools and offices.


How is the information about district school and office closures disseminated to the public?

Immediately following the superintendent’s decision to close schools and offices, the information is posted on the district Web site (www.atlanta.k12.ga.us ) in a highly visible location on the home page, and an automated telephone message is sent to parents and guardians whose contact information is provided to the district. The local news media are made aware of the closure decision in a news release. The district also has access to screen scrolls on the local television stations to post the district’s status. It should be noted that the district only announces closures of schools and offices on days when the district calendar indicates that schools and offices are  scheduled to be open for classes and business. The district does not proactively announce that schools and offices are open on days when the district calendar indicates normal operations, even when surrounding districts are delaying opening schools and/or closing schools. If APS schools and offices are being closed for whatever reason, that fact will be proactively announced and posted.


How many emergency days are incorporated into the district’s school calendar?

The district normally schedules 180 class days in its traditional school calendar. Four (4) of those days can be used as emergency days. If the district has to use more than four days, there is the potential that the additional days beyond the four may have to be made up prior to the end of the current school year. Options for making up the days include converting teacher planning days to regular class days, extending the school year or seeking a waiver from the state. In most instances, the district will attempt to make up the time by scheduling additional class days in order to provide students with sufficient learning time.

 
Would APS consider releasing students at mid-day?
The district tries not to release students mid-day, particularly when we have enough information to make a decision before the weather arrives.  However, there is always a slight chance that a decision to release students mid-day is a possibility.
 



Sign up to follow APS on Twitter for emergency announcements and other breaking information. Create an account at
www.twitter.com, search for "apsupdate" and click on "Follow." Also visit the district Website at www.atlanta.k12.ga.us
for updated information.