Emergency Closures Reminder

With winter-like weather upon us, it’s a good time to remind parents, students and staff about our communications plan for weather-related school closures.

First of all, unless an announcement is made by the district to close schools, always assume that schools will be open and if necessary, take extra precautions on getting to and from school in snow and ice. Michigan is a cold-weather state and winter snow and ice are to be expected. Schools will be closed only when a variety of conditions warrant doing so.

I am usually awake and up by 4:00 am each day throughout the cold-weather months analyzing the weather reports and out driving to test the roads and sidewalks. In addition, I am typically communicating with the superintendents from our surrounding districts (Wyoming, Godwin, Kelloggsville, Grandville and Grand Rapids) as well as our district operations supervisor before making a final decision. If there is a need to close schools due to weather conditions, I try my best to make that decision by 6:00 am and get the announcement out right away. Sometimes, however, conditions worsen after 6 am and a later announcement might be necessary.

Once I make the decision, here is the protocol for getting the message out:

1. Announcement is made on the district Facebook page (www.facebook.com/leerebels) and Twitter account (www.twitter.com/GodfreyLeePS).

2. Announcement is sent to GRAIL WEB which then posts it on all area television and radio stations. You will hear it on the radio or see it in the trailer at the bottom of the television screen, but the fastest way to know for sure is to go to your favorite TV or radio station’s website.  Please remember that it will say GODFREY-LEE PUBLIC SCHOOLS if we are closed. Do not assume if Grand Rapids, Wyoming, or Godwin schools are closed that our district is also closed. Conditions may warrant closures of other schools in other districts while ours remain opened.

3. Our emergency notification system or “Robo Call” will go to work getting the closure message to you through your primary contact information in your child’s Infinite Campus record. This includes a computerized message via telephone and/or email. If you do not answer the phone right away, a message will be left on your voicemail/answering machine. Please do not call the school back if you receive a call as its most likely no one will be in the office to answer your call at that hour. Check your voicemail, email or any of the other modes discussed above.

On very rare occasions, it may become necessary to CLOSE SCHOOL EARLY and send children home. Every parent must have a plan ready in the event an emergency early closure should occur. If you are likely to not be available to pick up your children as you normally do, you will need an alternate plan for either someone else to pick them up or another location for them to walk. Your child should know what to do. If you need to contact the school to deliver instructions to them, please do so but remember that many parents may be trying to call at the same time so please be patient.

If you have concerns or questions about what to do in any emergency closure, please discuss them with your child’s school principal or teacher to be sure there is not confusion or misunderstanding. Our goal is to ensure  we have a clear and timely communication channel with every home.

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About David Britten

Retired U.S. Army Officer, former elementary, middle and high school principal, currently serving as a public school superintendent.
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