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UCPS braces for inclement weather

In the event of school closings or delays, UCPS Chief Communications Officer Luan Ingram records a Blackboard Connect message that is then telephoned to staff and parents as soon as the decision is made.

With weather forecasters warning of an unusually cold winter this year, Union County Public Schools is bracing 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.
   
“We have very defined and timely notification procedures in place,” said UCPS Chief Communications Officer Luan Ingram. “I would like to ask that parents not call the school district and/or individual schools to see what our plans are. This is not necessary because we announce our plans the minute a decision is made through Blackboard Connect messages, web postings and news stations. Phone calls can sometimes delay our decision-making because they tie up phone lines that are used to gather information.”
    
If the schools have to be closed, days have been designated to make up missed school. The first make-up day will be March 9. The second day missed will be made up on April 27. All dates chosen for make up days are currently built into the calendar as teacher workdays.
   
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 April 9-13, 2012.
   
“It is a lot simpler when missed days can be made up on the days that are already built into the calendar for this purpose,” Superintendent, Dr. Ed Davis said. “It becomes more complicated when days have to be made up beyond this. We discovered last year 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. 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. As inconvenient as this may be for some, at least we will still have Saturday afternoon off.”
   
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. Its inclement weather pages are just a click away on the temperature box.

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Posted: Jan 07, 2010 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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