It appears that the winter season in Michigan is in full force. With this in mind, please remember that, as a parent, you ALWAYS will be the decision maker on sending your child to school on inclement weather days. I also wanted to share with you the process that Tecumseh Public Schools follow when making any decision on school delays and closures:
- The decision making process begins the day and night before when weather alerts are received from the National Weather Service. Depending on the timing of the alert, we begin to assess the current road conditions.
- When we are expecting or experiencing inclement weather, our transportation department has four different vehicles out traveling the roads by approximately 4:00 a.m. While checking the roads, they consider travel conditions throughout the district, including the rural back roads, roads in town and the busy intersections. In addition, they pay close attention to challenging areas on bus routes and assess safe stopping distances. Lastly, they take into consideration those students who have to wait at bus stops, those that reside in the walk zone and our high school student drivers who may be inexperienced in adverse conditions.
- I am up communicating with other Superintendents, discussing the road conditions as well as the decisions they are considering which usually include a delay or closing. We often talk several times early in the morning in our attempt to make the best decision with the information we have. Our goal is to make a decision by 5:00 a.m.
- When it comes to cold temperatures, as we are beginning to experience, it gets a bit more complicated. According to the National Weather Service, when the combined actual temperature and wind chill equal -20 degrees, there is a chance of frostbite if you are out in the elements for 30 minutes or more. This is the standard we use (-20 degrees) when deciding on a delay or closing. While it feels very crisp when the temperature falls below 0 degrees, there is little danger of frostbite when dressed appropriately. For students who take the bus to school, our drivers realize that on very cold days, students may choose to wait inside. They will stay at the stop longer and wait for children. This may slow the route down a bit, but be assured that your child will be picked up and can wait in a warm area instead of at the side of the road.
You may hear comments about the school wanting to stay open" so that we do not need to make up school days. While we do need to consider the number of days students are in school, this does not enter into the decision when we are looking at inclement weather. The safety of our students outweighs any need for "make-up” time.
I recognize that everyone will not be happy with the decision to stay open or to close. Please keep in mind that the safety of your child is our top priority. Hopefully by understanding the process we use and the standards we follow, you as the parent can then make the decision to send your child to school if you choose during these days that are weather impacted. Again, the safety of the students at TPS will always be my top priority.
Griff E. Mills
Co-Superintendent/High School Principal