Thursday, December 5, 2013
With the first snowfall of the season set for this afternoon, Callaway County schools shared the different ways they are prepared to notify parents when school is called off due to severe weather and road conditions:
Karen Snethen, director of school/community programs for Fulton Public Schools, said whether or not school gets canceled depends on when the winter weather hits and the likely road conditions when students would be traveling to school.
In the event of a snow day, notifications will be sent out the parents via the School Reach call system, the Hornet Alert messaging system, the school information line at (573) 590-8014 and the district website, www.fulton58.org. Cancellation also will be called in to area television and radio stations.
New this year, Fulton also has snow routes, which Snethen said would be utilized after heavy accumulation of snow over several days.
“Basically, the only time the snow routes will be used will be after big snow events when the buses are not able to turn around,” Snethen said. “That information is on the website as well.”
Parents can go to the transportation page of the district website and click on their child’s bus number to find out where they need to go to get picked up.
When snow falls in New Bloomfield, an on-site manager with the New Bloomfield Schools’ bus company — Durham School Services — will assess the roads along with superintendent David Tramel. The manager and Tramel will hit the roads to check the bus routes.
Tramel said they will review how slick roads are and will pay special attention to New Bloomfield’s gravel and secondary roads. He added buses tend to stop and turn most on those roads, which have a higher potential for buses to become stuck.When reviewing the roads, Tramel said they have to keep in mind how the buses drive.
“Driving a bus is totally different than driving a car,” Tramel said.
No specific temperature or amount of snow or ice is required for New Bloomfield to close down schools, Tramel said.
New Bloomfield Schools uses School Reach to send automated telephone messages to inform parents and guardians if school is canceled. When students register for school at the beginning of the year they include their telephone numbers and those numbers are given to School Reach for announcement purposes. New Bloomfield also contacts the local media to help inform students if they are off of school.
Two people in the South Callaway Schools also travel on the bus routes to see if they’re drivable. Superintendent Kevin Hillman and Donnie DeBrodie, director of transportation, check out the road conditions and “high priority areas,” such as steep hills and sharp turns, Hillman said. He added if any danger is detected as they travel the routes, they decide to cancel school.
“It’s one of the things I hate the most,” Hillman said. “No matter which way you go someone is going to be in disagreement.”
Because students are approaching their final exams, Hillman said the timing would be bad if school was canceled.
Hillman said because the South Callaway district is large in terms of mileage, checking the entire area is important.
“It can look very different from one side of the district to the other,” Hillman said.
Bus drivers arrive at South Callaway schools at 5:30 a.m., leave the parking lot at 6:25 a.m. and pick up their first students at 6:45 a.m. If a snowstorm hits close to those times, Hillman and DeBrodie have to make a call quickly.
“It really depends on the situation,” Hillman said.
Parents and guardians can expect a text message to notify them if school is canceled. Within the next week or two, Hillman said South Callaway schools will transfer from its current notification system, SchoolReach. He said SchoolReach can send more detailed messages to more numbers.
North Callaway Superintendent Bryan Thomsen said his district’s policies for calling off school are similar to other Callaway schools.
When school is canceled, the district has an automated calling system and messaging system as well as posting on the district website at www.nc.k12.mo.us. The district also will notify local television and radio stations.
School and community event cancellation information can also be found on the Fulton Sun website, www.fultonsun.com.
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