School Closure & Early Dismissal FAQ

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Q-1. Who is on the Incident Response Team and what is their role in Aurora Public Schools?

The Incident Response Team (IRT) consists of an incident commander, operations liaison, legal director, school liaison, logistics director, security department liaison, public information officer and elementary and secondary principal representatives. The IRT responds to crises that occur in Aurora Public Schools and works with other community agencies to develop crisis response plans for the district.

Learn more about the APS Incident Response Team at http://irt.aurorak12.org/.

Q-2. Why were some schools dismissed early on September 12 while others were not? 

After consulting with our school staff, maintenance and operations teams and the Aurora Police Department, we made the decision to dismiss certain schools early in the interest of student safety.  These schools had either experienced severe water damage or they were in close proximity to the Highline Canal, which quickly reached dangerously high levels.  We did not want students walking home near the canal, so we coordinated with parents to ensure that students arrived home safely.

Q-3.  In the future, will APS consider closing district-wide or only certain schools due to weather conditions in the area?

When APS faces inclement weather, we initially assess the district overall.  If needed, based on the assessment of road conditions and in collaboration with other agencies, we would then determine if we need to close any or all schools.

Q-4.  Why did APS close afternoon preschool?

Our top priority in Aurora Public Schools is the safety of our students, families and staff members. Many roads and sidewalks near our schools were flooded, and were either closed or too dangerous for travel.  Even if weather conditions improved, it was important to keep as many Aurora residents off the roads as possible given the magnitude of damage and flood debris in the area.

Q-5.  Why was school canceled on September 13?

The Aurora Police Department, Aurora Public Schools and the Cherry Creek School District agreed to close all schools on September 13 in the interest of public safety.  We also made this decision in collaboration with the Aurora Fire Department and the City of Aurora.

Our top priority in Aurora Public Schools is the safety of our students, families and staff members. Many roads and sidewalks near our schools were flooded, and were either closed or too dangerous for travel.  Even if weather conditions improved, it was important to keep as many Aurora residents off the roads as possible given the magnitude of damage and flood debris in the area.

In addition, many of our schools and sites sustained water damage.  We needed time to assess damage to ensure that all buildings were safe for students and staff.  Nearly all members of the Aurora Public Schools Support Services team worked diligently on Friday and over the weekend to make much needed repairs to our buildings.

Q-6.  Why did Aurora Public Schools make the decision to cancel school in conjunction with the Aurora Police Department and Cherry Creek Schools?

The decision was made in the interest of public safety due to weather and road conditions caused by the heavy rains.  Our mutual goal was to keep our students, parents and staff members safe and off the roads, while police and fire departments and the City of Aurora assessed damages and made necessary repairs.

Q-7.  What factors are considered prior to making a decision to delay the start of school, close schools or release students early?

The decision to change school schedules because of adverse conditions is based on one factor: ensuring the safety of all students and staff members. Using a variety of resources, the APS Incident Response Team gathers as much information as possible before making the decision. We monitor ongoing weather reports, road conditions from the Colorado Department of Transportation, and information from local and state law enforcement agencies. The Incident Response Team makes the decision to delay, close or release students early as soon as possible to ensure the safety of students and staff.

Q-8.  How will I know if my school or my child’s school is starting an hour late, dismissing early, or closing?

Based on the situation, decisions to delay school start times, dismiss school early or close school may differ from school to school.

In this situation, or when a limited number of schools are involved, the Incident Response Team works with school principals or achievement directors to determine whether to start school late, dismiss school early or close a school.  Principals then inform their staff members, and the Incident Response Team sends automated messages to parents.

When there is a district-wide delayed start or closure, the Incident Response Team informs staff members and parents with automated phone messages.  Staff also receive email alerts. The information is also shared with local news stations and posted on Facebook, Twitter, the APS website (aurorak12.org) and school websites.  We also provide this information on the APS Emergency line at 303-326-1080.

Q-9.  Who makes the decision to delay the start of schools, dismiss schools early or close schools?

The APS Superintendent and Incident Response Team make the decision as soon as possible.

Q-10.  Why doesn't APS close in "zones," such as feeder areas or based on geography?

When we experience a weather emergency that affects public safety, there is no way to predict if the weather conditions will remain in a single area or if conditions will spread throughout the city.  Because APS boundaries encompass nearly 155 square miles, it is also impossible to determine if student, parent and staff drivers will remain in a single area.  In the case of the recent rains, roads throughout the city were flooded or closed.  In conjunction with Aurora police and fire leaders, our goal was to keep students safe and provide opportunities for drivers to get off the roads as soon as possible because additional rain was forecast. 

Q-11.  Why did APS request that all parents pick up their students early?

We made this request of parents based on information we received from Aurora Police and APS staff who were surveying the area.  Because of the volume of rain, sidewalk conditions and road closures, in the interest of public safety, we wanted parents and guardians to have the option of getting off the roads as soon as possible because additional rain was expected. Our top priority in APS is the safety of our students and staff members. Many roads and sidewalks near our schools were flooded or becoming dangerous for travel. We wanted our students to arrive home as safely as possible.

Q-12.  What happens if students report to schools when they are closed?

In some cases, when we anticipate extremely cold or dangerous conditions, school staff are expected to report to school to meet any students who do arrive and help these students return home safely.

In other cases, the APS Security Team patrols all schools based on start times and helps students return home safely.

Q-13.  Why did APS make the decision to allow elementary and K-8 students to walk home only with parental permission?

We made this decision in the interest of public safety. Many roads and sidewalks near our schools were flooded and were either closed or becoming too dangerous for travel. Our top priority in APS is the safety of our students and staff members.

Q-14. When will repairs be made to all of the buildings that sustained damage related to the storm?

The repair schedules will vary depending on the extent of the damage.  The APS Support Services team is committed to making all necessary repairs as quickly as possible.

Q-15.  What happens if we have to cancel school due to emergencies and do not meet the number of school days required by the state?

State law requires a specific number of hours of classroom instruction each school year. If a school does not meet this requirement, the school year must be extended.  At this point, APS is in full compliance with the required contact hours.

Q-16.  Is there any risk of mold due to the water damage?

The APS Environmental Department has assessed all of the facilities and determined that there are no risks. However, you may notice a musty smell until the facilities are completely dry.

Q-17.  How can I learn more about APS emergency closures?

For additional information related to emergency closures, visit http://aurorak12.org/schools/weather-closures/faq/.


Preguntas Comunes Cierre de escuelas / Salida temprano

En cualquier momento que  los dirigentes de las Escuelas Públicas de Aurora toman la decisión de cerrar las escuelas o de retirar temprano a los alumnos de las escuelas, surgen preguntas acerca de nuestro proceso. Por consiguiente, hemos actualizado las Preguntas Comunes del “APS Incident Response Team” (Equipo de Respuesta a Incidentes de APS), en relación al retiro temprano de alumnos de sus escuelas el 12 de sept. y el cierre de escuelas del 13 de sept. Por favor lea las Preguntas Comunes aquí.

Por favor comparta esto con los padres y otros miembros de la comunidad que puedan tener preguntas acerca de este asunto.

Gracias por su apoyo.