A press release recently issued by Lake County School District No. 7 details the occasions for school delays or closures as a result of extreme winter weather conditions.
“The decision to close school for inclement weather is important to balance education and safety interests”, said Supt. Sean Gallagher. “Safety during inclement weather for staff and students always takes priority.”
Sometimes events that may influence a decision to close schools are not always weather related. Interruptions in the ability to heat schools and/or provide power or water to the buildings may result in a school closure as well as natural events such as earthquakes, floods, or fires.
Of all the events that could result in a school closure, weather that brings high winds, snow, hail, or other elements that affects transportation safety is the most common reason for closing schools.
Supt. Gallagher outlined the procedures the district follows with making any type of school closure/delay decisions.
These procedures include careful monitoring of multiple weather reports, coordinating with the Lake County Road Department and Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) personnel, and evaluating the district’s ability to safely open school doors on-time.
“If the roads are not open, or only open to single lane traffic, those conditions are not acceptable for our busses,” Gallagher stated as an example that could result in either a delay or a closure. “The county road department and ODOT are always great to work with”, says Gallagher, “They provide first hand assessments and observations as to what is going on out in the county. They go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure safety for our students.”
The districts bus fleet includes busses that have drop-down chains, studded snow tires both front and back and strobe lights for low visibility conditions. “Our bus drivers are very experienced in inclement weather and aren’t afraid to make the tough call to turn around in an unsafe situation”, states Gallagher ,”They have excellent communication tools on-board and maintain contact with the district, road departments, and each other at all times”.
The decision to close/delay school and/or school functions is usually made as early in the morning as possible, but could occur anytime throughout the day based on current weather conditions.