Inclement Weather and Emergency School Closings

We want students to be in school learning whenever possible. However, there are times when severe winter weather or dangerous driving conditions make it necessary to change the school schedule. We attend National Weather Service webinars and consult with our buildings and grounds staff, city staff, and surrounding school districts to best understand weather conditions and related factors that could affect our schools. Unless we announce otherwise, assume school is in session.

Why would the District consider closing or delaying the school day?
The decision to close or delay the school day is almost always due to inclement weather, but it could also be the result of power loss, water main break, and/or other emergency situations that may occur within the District. In the case of inclement weather, the Superintendent works with the Transportation Department to verify the conditions of the roads and the ability for all buses to operate safely and for drivers to arrive in time for routes to run. 
Who makes the decision to close school?

The Superintendent or their designee decides all school closings and/or schedule changes. The primary factors that go into the decision to cancel school due to inclement weather are: road conditions, temperature, visibility, and projections for incoming weather during the day. The National Weather Service is our source for weather information. As we evaluate these factors, keeping our students, staff, and families safe is our highest priority.

Decisions to cancel or shorten the regular school day and after-school activities shall be made by the Superintendent or their designee in consultation with other staff and may include consultation with local city/county personnel and neighboring school districts, as appropriate. 

Please note: Parents make the final decision about whether to send their children to school if they believe weather conditions present a safety issue. Up to five weather-related excused absences are allowed when a parent or guardian determines that travel conditions are unsafe and the school district has not closed school. 

When does the District make the decision to cancel school?

Due to the often unpredictable winter weather in Minnesota, in most cases, we wait until early morning before notifying families (typically by 5:30 a.m.). However, there may be instances when we make a decision the night before.

How will families be notified?

The District Communications Department will communicate all school closing information through:

  • An alert notification will be sent to you by phone, text, and e-mail based on information on file with the school district and any preferences you have selected for notification in cases of emergency.

  • A "pop up" alert message will be posted on each district and school homepage.
  • We will post a message on the School District 197 Facebook and Instagram social media pages.
  • We will share information via school closing messages on WCCO (Channel 4), KSTP (Channel 5), KMSP (Channel 9), KARE (Channel 11), and WCCO radio (830 AM).

If you do not receive a phone call, text, or email from the school district, find a message on our website, or see a posting on local media channels, school is in session.

How are Community Education, SAC, and after-school activities impacted by school closing?

Late starts and early dismissals are difficult for many programs and families. With this in mind, District Administration will do its best to keep these to a minimum. Early dismissals will be determined as conditions dictate. All families should have a contingency plan for their students during school closings.

In the event of a late start, typically morning Early Childhood Preschool, School Age Care (SAC), and Community Education Classes will also be canceled.

In the event of an early dismissal, all afternoon and evening Community Education classes, SAC, and all after-school athletics and activities will be canceled. All facility rental reservations will be canceled. Thompson Park Activity Center will be closed.

What are student learning expectations when school is canceled?

If school is canceled, there will be no school expectations for student learning at home during the first three canceled days. e-Learning will begin on the fourth weather-related cancellation during the school year. Students complete school work from home on e-Learning days to help keep the school year on track and eliminate the need to add school days to the end of the year.

The decision to move to e-Learning will be announced no later than 5:30 a.m. on the day of an e-Learning day. Announcements will be made using the same communication methods we use for school cancellations (phone, text, website, media reports, etc.)

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