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UCPS prepares for predictions of colder winter

In the event of school closings or delays, Community Relations and Communications Liaison Rob Jackson records a Blackboard Connect message that is then telephoned to staff and parents as soon as the decision is made.

The Farmers’ Almanac has reported that “last winter was the fourth warmest since record keeping began in 1895.” For this year, the prediction is that “winter will return” and that the “eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow.” With weather forecasters warning of a cold winter this year, Union County Public Schools is preparing for possible school closings or delays.

Making the decision to delay school, dismiss early or cancel school for the day is a difficult one that involves a great deal of behind-the-scenes work. UCPS officials consult with weather and emergency management experts and other school districts, and have employees ride the county’s roads to determine whether it is safe for staff, parents and buses to travel.

“UCPS has inclement weather procedures in place that are focused on the safety of students and staff,” said Community Relations and Communications Liaison Rob Jackson. “We take seriously the need to quickly communicate decisions as soon as they are made. We know that many students and staff members leave their homes very early in the morning to arrive at school on time.”

If the schools have to be closed, days have been designated to make up missed school. The first make-up day on the traditional school calendar will be March 1.

The make up days for additional days missed will be determined at the UCPS Superintendent's discretion. Saturdays and/or an extension of the school year may be used for make up. All reasonable efforts will be made to preserve Spring Break designated for March 29-April 5, 2013.

“We noted two years ago that any make-up days during Spring Break are very poorly attended so we will try our best to avoid having to use any Spring Break days for make-up this year,” Superintendent Dr. Mary Ellis said. “If it is necessary to schedule make-up days on Saturdays, students will only have to attend for half the time of a regular school day.”

There are numerous ways to find out about school announcements. As soon as the weather-related decision is made, that information is posted on the UCPS web site homepage and on each school website homepage.

The UCPS web site has dedicated pages where faculty, staff, students and parents can turn to for bad weather information and the impact on UCPS schools. It also offers Inclement Weather Procedures to enlighten the public as to the protocol for school closings and delays. These are also given in Spanish.

Blackboard Connect calls are made to UCPS faculty, staff and parents, while simultaneous phone calls are made to the news media. In order to be notified, it is essential that parents and staff keep emergency contact information updated. This information includes home and emergency phone numbers. If current telephone numbers are not known, weather notification cannot be made.

The notification will also be posted on the UCPS Facebook fan page and all school Facebook pages. Sign up to become a UCPS Facebook fan by clicking on the UCPS Facebook Fan Page on the school district’s web site homepage.

The UCPS web site can be found at www.ucps.k12.nc.us. The inclement weather pages are just a click away on the temperature box.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Nov 09, 2012 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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