Emergency School Closing Protocol

The winter season is upon us.  Our district staff understands that our decision to open or close schools during inclement weather has a big effect on families.  We also understand that our students are better served, both academically and socially, by being in school.  However, as always, our top priority is the safety of our students and staff.

  • How Do We Make Our Decision?

Decisions are based on a careful analysis of all relevant factors, such as:

  • Information on road conditions from transportation/maintenance staff and from the police.  Even if your street looks clear, travel elsewhere in the district may be dangerous.  Also, we must consider that some high school students drive to school.
  • Amount of snow and ice accumulated.
  • Whether precipitation is continuing and what time of the day or night it will fall.
  • Building conditions (such as whether we have electricity and heat).
  • Parking lot & sidewalk conditions. Administrators talk to maintenance and custodial staff members who are responsible for clearing and treating school parking lots and sidewalks.
  • Temperature and wind chill.  Please remember that most of our students walk to school.
  • Weather predictions.  We prefer not making our decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate, but sometimes this is unavoidable.
  • What other school districts are doing.We also share information with other local districts and check whether they are opening or closing.


  • Who makes the decision? As Superintendent of Schools, I am responsible for the final decision, based on the above factors.
  • How is the public notified? Tune to WCTC 1450 AM, NJ 101.5 FM, WCBS TV or WABC TV for up-to-date information on school closings.  You can also check our district web site www.sapublicschools.com for information.  We also send a district-wide All-Call phone message to all parents and staff no later than 6:00 am.
  • When is the decision made? I must make the decision by 5:30 am or earlier so we can notify radio and TV stations, post the decision on our web site and contact parents via phone.  If I wait longer to announce a closing, some parents will have already left for work, leaving their children unsupervised.
  • Will we have a delayed opening? There are times when it is necessary to open school on a delayed schedule because weather conditions warrant it. The added time will allow for the safe removal of snow and ice so that students and staff can get to school safely. When schools are on a delayed opening, schedule start time is 10:00 am for the MHS and 10:30 am for the Elementary School. Please check our website for exact delayed opening times of arrival. You will be notified of a delayed opening as listed above.
  • Will we close school if conditions worsen? Keep in mind that, even if weather conditions worsen, we cannot reverse our decision in the morning without endangering students.  Once we make the decision to open the schools, many parents rely on it and leave for work.  If we then send students right back home, many will return to unsupervised bus stops and empty homes.  If conditions get worse during the school day, we may need to have an early dismissal, but we will give adequate notice to all parents first.

Although my staff and I do our absolute best in this process, we know that often no perfect decision exists.  If you do not feel as though it is safe for your child to attend school, use your best judgment as to whether he or she should attend.  Also, discourage teenagers from driving in bad conditions and offer them alternatives if weather conditions worsen.

We hope that this explanation helps everyone understand the process that our district staff uses to make the best possible decision for all in our district.

Jorge E. Diaz