Ferndale School District Winter Weather Reminders

Winter Weather Reminders Graphic

As we proceed through the winter season, the Ferndale School District would like to remind our community of our winter weather protocols.

 

Weather conditions (snow, flooding, power outages, etc.) may result in the decision to:

  • Operate on a normal schedule with snow routes
  • Operate on a two-hour delay
  • Operate on a two-hour delay with snow routes
  • Cancel school

In the event of a delay or closure, a telephone call and an email message will be sent to parents. Please be sure your contact information is up-to-date for your student.

 

In the event of weather related incidents, district personnel survey roads within the district early in the morning and decide whether students can safely reach school.

 

If a closure or a delay in start time becomes necessary, beginning at 6:00 a.m., announcements will be made. Unless you hear an announcement to the contrary, you should assume that Ferndale School District will operate on schedule.

 

Each year, the district faces the possibility of school closure or delay in start time due to weather, road conditions or other emergencies. Student safety is of primary concern. Connect to one of the technologies listed below to access district information about delays and closures.

  • Ferndale School District Website: http://ferndalesd.org
  • Ferndale School District Facebook: http://facebook.com/FerndaleSchools 
  • Ferndale School District Twitter: @FerndaleSD_WA
  • Ferndale School District Telephone Line: 360-383-9888
  • Television Stations:
    • KOMO (channel 4), KING (channel 5), KIRO (channel 7), FOX (channel 13),
  • Radio Stations
    • AM Band: KARI (550), KGMI (790), KBAI (930), KPUG (1170), KRPI (1550)
    • FM Band: KISM (92.9), KAFE (104.1), PRAISE (106.5)

Please visit our Emergency Delays and Closures information web page for more details, including snow routes.

 

The following are responses to frequently asked questions with detailed answers regarding the inclement weather decision-making process:

 

How does the Ferndale School District decide to delay the school start time or cancel school altogether because of inclement weather?

 

Decisions made in the dark, pre-dawn hours about whether or not to delay or cancel school due to weather conditions affect the lives of thousands of people. Therefore, they are never made lightly.

 

The first priority is always student safety, followed very closely by the safety of parents and staff.  We want to make certain that our buses; our student walkers; and all of our parent, staff, and student drivers can get to all of our schools over roads that are clear enough to allow safe arrival. The County and City road crews do a great job helping with this, but often other factors come into play, like calculating the amount of time children will need to be out in the cold and wet waiting for a bus and the safety of walking routes for those who come to school on foot.

 

The decision making process starts early. At 3:30 am, designated district staff start driving area roads. While sometimes our district team consults with colleagues in neighboring districts, each school district must ultimately make its own call, because conditions can vary greatly from one district to another and even from one neighborhood to another.

 

Staff assess the severity of the current conditions and, as importantly, the timing of any imminent weather changes. An overnight storm whose intensity comes during commuter hours is different than an evening front that gives ample time for snow plows to clear streets by dawn. A big accumulation of wet snow followed by warming temperatures requires different consideration than ice-packed roads and successive days of sub-freezing temperatures. A number of factors go into the decision. One that doesn’t factor in is the number of snow days already called during the year. The decision is only about safety.

 

To activate all of the notification systems in time to prevent anyone from starting out on dangerous roads, the decision to delay or cancel has to be made no later than 5:00 am. As soon as it is made, the media are contacted and the information is posted on the district website. At approximately 6:00 am, an automated call is sent to all staff and parents.

 

Some days, the decision about whether or not to call a snow day is clear. Icy conditions or widespread snow accumulations on roads throughout the district make for brief deliberations. Other times, the decision is not so easy, as when the forecast indicates the worst weather will occur after our students have arrived at school.

 

On days that school must be closed, we start with the assumption that all activities scheduled for the afternoon and evening will be cancelled or rescheduled as well. On occasion, we make exceptions for after-school or evening meetings or activities, but these are rare and generally occur when weather conditions have improved throughout the day.

 

Sometimes we decide to start school one or two hours later than usual rather than canceling altogether. Late starts are called when we believe the roads will clear up in time to run school for most of the day. Late starts allow students to make their way to school in daylight instead of dark, which is much safer. Late starts also give bus drivers extra time to prepare their buses for driving in winter conditions. In late-start situations, we communicate the delay as quickly as possible in the same ways we do for snow days. 

 

On rare occasions and as a last resort, we may dismiss school early to ensure all of our students get home safely. When these end-of-day schedule changes have to be made, we will communicate immediately via our all-call and email systems.

 

The final decision about whether to close school or delay its start is made by the superintendent based on input from her team. We always want students in classrooms for instruction, and we are mindful of the inconvenience that working parents must manage when we are closed. However, we are focused on the safety of our students, parents, and staff when we make decisions about closing school. We know we will not make every decision perfectly. However, you can be assured that safety will always be our top priority.

 

Do students and staff in the Ferndale School District have to make up time lost due to inclement weather? If so, when will they make it up?

 

The State of Washington requires schools to provide 180 school days and a minimum of 1,000 hours of instruction in each school year. Therefore, when a day is cancelled due to weather, it must be made up.

 

The Ferndale School District will make up snow days at the end of the school year in June. As of January 31, we have not yet had a snow day during the 2018-19 school year.

 

A state law provides limited exceptions to the 180-day law under certain conditions. When a school district experiences an excessive number of closures due to inclement weather, the superintendent can apply for up to three waiver days, which may or may not be granted. Waiver days apply to students but not staff. Staff are required to make up all days missed.

 

When school starts one or two hours late due to inclement weather, these hours generally do not have to be made up because we still meet the 1,000-hour rule.