Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency School Closures
With the winter months come the possibility of school closures and schedule changes. The decision to change school schedules because of adverse conditions is based on one factor; the safety of all students and staff. Here are answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about emergency school closures:
When are decisions made about school closures?
The district makes every effort to decide and announce decisions to close schools before 6 a.m. The planning and review process actually begins the night before.
Once a decision is made, APS will notify local media, record a message on the APS Emergency Hotline at 303-326-1080, post on the APS Web site at aurorak12.org, update on Facebook and Twitter, and send to parent phones using Connect-Ed.
What factors go into the decision?
Weather and road conditions are checked throughout Aurora beginning the night before. Using a variety of resources, APS gathers as much information as possible before making the decision. District officials monitor ongoing weather reports, road conditions from the Colorado Department of Transportation, and information from local and state law enforcement agencies.
“Weather spotters,” such as school bus drivers and transportation personnel who are arriving at area bus terminals, and maintenance crew members who are assigned to plow school parking lots and sidewalks are consulted.
Classes will not be held if parking lots and access areas to schools are dangerous or impassible. The APS Communication Department office will notify local media – television and radio – as early as possible.
Other school districts have delayed openings, but APS rarely does this. Why?
Weather conditions may vary throughout the metro area, as well as other unique situations, such as transportation availability, so each decision is based on how conditions will affect students attending a particular school and/or school district. Officials are sensitive to the fact that students may arrive late when weather conditions are poor.
Should APS staff make the decision to delay school, the school day would begin one hour later than normal. Staff members are expected to arrive at school as close to their regular start time as is safely possible as some students will arrive on time.
APS buses will pick up students one hour later than normal. Our top priority is to keep students and staff as safe as possible.
Please note: A delayed start does not change regular pick-up times at the end of the school day.
Is there a set temperature that would cause the district to close schools?
No. There is no set temperature that would cause the district to close schools, but it is one of the many factors, along with road conditions, that are taken into consideration when making a school closure decision.
Extreme temperatures may cause schools to limit recess, off-campus lunch hours for high schools, and extracurricular activities.
Sometimes schools have power outages or other emergencies such as broken pipes. When this happens, what is the procedure at Auror Public Schools?
APS personnel make every effort to protect students, provide for their comfort and ensure their safety. Sometimes power outages cause classrooms to get cold, but the district does not want to send students home unsupervised or to cold and dark houses.
School principals can make the decision to send students home. If this happens the district notifies the news media and attempts to contact parents.
Information is posted on the APS website, on Facebook and Twitter, and on the APS Emergency Line at 303-326-1080. Parents may also be notified on their phones via Connect-Ed. The district also must mobilize school buses, which can take time. Students will not be transported home without parent notification and contact.
What happens when the number of school days lost due to emergency school closures exceeds 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.
How can I make sure my student is safe?
Since parents are the primary protectors they will need to decide what is best for their children. The option to keep children home when weather conditions are extreme is always at the parents' discretion and the school understands and respects the decision. Parents can contact the school and arrange for an excused student absence.
In cold weather students should be dressed appropriately. No one can predict when a fire alarm might go off or when buildings might have to be evacuated due to an emergency. Bulky coats and boots can be stored in classrooms, or other areas designated by the principal in addition to student lockers.
Parents are urged to make arrangements at the beginning of each school year for their children in case of school closures and to plan for the rare situation when it is necessary to close an individual school because of a power failure or another circumstance. Children should know where to go if a parent will not be home and how to contact parents and guardians.
Parent contact information, including work telephone numbers, should be kept up-to-date with the school.
If you are instructed to pick up your student at a location other than their school due to a school closure, you will be asked to present photo ID before the student will be released.
What about school bus transportation when the weather is bad?
If schools are open, buses will run on their regular schedules as closely as possible, even in inclement weather. If school openings have been delayed, buses will run on a one hour delayed schedule. Prepare your child in suitable clothing to wait for possible additional time at the bus stop.
Parents should have a contingency plan in the event that a bus is running extremely late or breaks down before reaching the bus stop. Discuss with your child what to do and who to call if the bus does not arrive. Have a neighbor, or reliable student "buddy" at the same stop that can help.
Does the school district ever close some schools and leave others open?
Yes. APS may close select schools due to unsafe conditions, but leave other schools open that may not be affected. APS covers more than 150 square miles and conditions can vary throughout the county.
How can I find out about school closures or changes in schedules?
APS immediately contacts the local news media and requests that alerts are issued when there is a school closure or other emergency situation. Watch major local television stations and listen to the radio.
Closure information is also available on the district’s web site at aurorak12.org, on Facebook and Twitter, and on the APS Emergency line at 303-326-1080. Closure messages will also be sent to parent phones early in the morning of the the closure or delay using Connect-Ed.