A Message from Dr. Hanks
Dear Weatherford ISD Community,
Understandably, we received phone calls and social media posts after this morning’s decision to hold school.
The decision to operate on a regular schedule had to be made in the very early hours of the morning to allow for bus transportation. At that time, our assessment of road conditions showed roads were clear, with only drifting snow. Taking into consideration our local forecast that indicated the storm would be over before noon, we made the decision to hold school on a regular schedule because we believed it would be safe for our students to travel to and from school.
Our first priority is always the safety of our students, parents, and staff. In the past, there have been instances when we’ve closed school in anticipation of bad weather that did not arrive. There are also situations like today, where weather conditions worsened during the morning hours after we’d made the decision to operate on a regular schedule.
We make our decision to open or close schools in bad weather based on careful analysis of as many relevant factors as we can gather, including:
• Information on road conditions from transportation staff and local law enforcement officials - we must give careful consideration to the most dangerous roads in the District. Even if the street in front of your house looks clear, travel elsewhere in the District may be dangerous.
• Amount of snow or ice accumulated and projected accumulations.
• School entrances – we monitor the clearing and treating of sidewalks to ensure safe passage.
• Weather predictions.
Who makes the decision?
As Superintendent, I am responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors and recommendations from District staff and First Student (bus transportation).
How is the public notified?
We post the announcement on the District website, www.weatherfordisd.com , social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter), and automated phone calls to parents. (That’s one reason we always need up-to-date contact information.) In addition, we notify local media so they can broadcast these updates.
When is the decision made?
We try to make the decision by 5:30 a.m. or earlier so we can notify local media and post the information on our website, start automated communications, emails, and phone calls by 6:00 a.m. Also, our first buses leave the transportation center around 5:45 a.m. Finally, we know that waiting much later in the morning limits parents’ options when they are making childcare decisions.
What happened this time?
This morning we followed our protocol to make the decision about the school schedule considering our inclement weather. With the most recent weather information, we began communicating with our experts around 4:00 a.m. Our staff had completed their check of road conditions by 5:00 a.m. and continued to monitor conditions throughout the morning. At 6:00 a.m. we had no reports of dangerous road conditions within the WISD boundaries and the forecast predicted an end to the precipitation around noon.
Morning classes had begun when it became clear that road conditions were worsening and that more precipitation than was previously forecasted was on the way. Considering all of these factors we made the decision, shortly before 10:00 a.m., to dismiss school at noon. We modified our schedule to ensure all students had an opportunity for lunch and to allow parents time to make transportation arrangements.
I am so thankful for our excellent staff and for our parents who dealt with this change in a caring, professional manner. Our maintenance staff braved the elements to ensure school entrances were cleared multiple times this morning and our child nutrition staff modified their schedule to make sure students were fed.
Please know that we always strive to make the best decision possible with the information we have at the time. I hope this explanation helps to clarify the process we use during inclement weather. I am honored to work with our outstanding staff and engaged parents as we strive to provide an excellent education for all students.
Without question, this is the most unusual winter we have experienced in a long, long time. I appreciate your confidence and support as we work together to make decisions in the best interest of students, employees, parents, and our community.
With Roo Pride,
Dr. Jeffrey Hanks