Published November 14, 2019
Message to parents from the Superintendent of Schools regarding Inclement Weather.
The 2019-20 winter season is upon us and bad weather sometimes makes it necessary to close school, or delay the opening of school for 60/90 minutes. Because of the impact it can have on families, serious consideration is given to the many factors that influence the decision. Our students and their families are better served – academically and socially – by being in school.
The following are answers to commonly asked questions:
- Who makes the decision to close or delay the opening of school?
- I am responsible for making the decision.
- How do I make the decision?
- Please understand the decision to open or close schools in bad weather is based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, including, but not always limited to the following:
- Information on road conditions:
- I receive information from the District’s Director of Security, Building and Grounds Supervisor, police, and a weather service. Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be dangerous. I am also concerned about road safety for those high school students who drive to school and the many employees who travel far distances to work.
- Sidewalk conditions:
- Students must have a safe place, out of the street, to wait for the bus or walk to school. This is sometimes the most critical factor.
- Amount of snow and/or ice already accumulated
- Whether snow or freezing rain is continuing
- Building conditions:
- Is there electricity and heat in the schools?
- Parking lot conditions
- Temperature and wind chill:
- Please remember that some of our students walk to school and some must wait outside for the bus.
- Weather predictions:
- Although weather predictions are not always accurate, forecasters are sometimes very sure of the weather and they must be considered.
- What other school districts are doing:
- Students come to Bridgeton High School from Downe and Lawrence Townships. We have students attending the Cumberland County Technical Education Center and schools in other counties. All Superintendents share information before a decision is made to close or delay opening.
- How are parents notified?
- NOTE: You will be notified of school closings and delayed openings using our new technologically advanced school communication system, Blackboard Connect, which allows us to contact you directly on your home telephone, mobile phone, and text message. This system will be used to provide you with other important information during the year. You can also check the following resources:
- When is the decision made?
- I like to make the decision by 5:30 AM to allow time to notify bus drivers and TV stations. If I wait longer to announce a closing, buses may arrive late and some parents and employees will have already left for work.
- Will school close early if weather conditions worsen?
- I do not like to close early because children may go home to empty houses without supervision. However, it is essential that you have a plan in place in the event of an early dismissal. You will be notified via automated telephone message if there is an early dismissal.
My staff and I do our absolute best to make the correct decision. If I make an error, it will be on the side of safety. My concern is for the safety of the students, staff, and parents of the Bridgeton School District.
If the decision is made to open schools, and you do not feel it is safe for your child to attend, use your judgment. If school is open, it is an official attendance day and students not attending are counted as absent. Also, please discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.
I hope this explanation helps you understand the process used to make the best possible decision in everyone’s best interest.
H. Victor Gilson, Ed.D.
Interim Superintendent of Schools