Be Prepared For Snow Days and Inclement Weather
Winter is here, which means at some point we may have snow. We may not like it, but those are the facts.
But let’s not wait around for the snow to start falling before we talk about snow days. We want you to be prepared and know where to get information.
One of the most difficult decisions for the school district is whether to close, delay, or open school on days of inclement weather. It is a difficult decision because it deals directly with our number one priority as a district: safety. We have to know whether we can safely transport students and have staff members travel in bad weather.
The process can begin as early as three days before a snow event, lasting up to 3 a.m. the morning of, with several district personnel. The Transportation Department’s Snow Patrol strategically locates throughout the county traveling the roads to check on road conditions.
In times of sleet, snow, even thunderstorms or heavy rain, transportation officials check road conditions for downed trees, large limbs, and any other obstacles that could prevent buses from following routes.
“We’re up at 2 a.m. and we’re on the roads by 3 a.m. Sometimes we know the night before and we’ll get out and drive even then,” said Metro Schools Transportation Director Taffy Marsh. “We can make data driven decisions based on actual road conditions and not just a forecast. Things can change over the course of a few hours and by driving the roads we can determine if the roads are really safe.”
Our district footprint covers 553 square miles, which means conditions can vary widely depending on if you live in the urban corridor of Metro Nashville or further out in a more rural part of Davidson County – like Joelton – where there are lots of hills with more narrow, curvy roads.
In addition to the Snow Patrol, our leadership keeps tabs on the local weather forecasts from meteorologists, updates from the National Weather Service and Office of Emergency Management, as well as public safety officials with Metro Police and the state. We even call nearby school districts to see how they will handle the weather.
Because we want to make a decision by 4:30 a.m., there may be a need to revise the decision later in the morning due to changing weather conditions. It is important for parents to continue to check after the initial announcement, in the event weather conditions dictate a change. As always, you as the parent make the final call about sending your child to school if you feel that the road conditions are too dangerous where you live.
What factors go into making the decision to close schools?
- Weather forecasts from radio and television stations (Time snow/ice is expected to start and end)
- Amount of snow/ice accumulated
- Weather conditions expected after the snow/ice
- Assessments of road conditions by the School Transportation Department, Metro Public Works, the county Office of Emergency Management officials, and various law enforcement
- School district’s assessment of school parking and accessibility of buildings
- Ability to transport children safely based on expected traffic
- The amount of time to prepare the bus fleet for deployment, including any needed repairs from bad weather or extreme cold
What happens if the weather becomes severe during the school day?
Every effort is made to keep students in school through regular dismissal; however, it may become necessary to dismiss students one or two hours earlier than normal to ensure the safe transport of our students.
This decision is not made lightly and considerations are made for parents having to leave work to pick up their child in hazardous weather conditions. School officials monitor weather conditions throughout the day in consultation with Metro government, county Office of Emergency Management and school Transportation Department personnel.
How can parents be ready?
Parents should always be prepared by having an identified procedure for their child to follow.
Where to look for snow day information:
- Check the homepage – www.mnps.org
- Facebook – @MetroSchools
- Twitter – @MetroSchools
- Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools ParentLink App – A free, handy app for Android and iOS phones that keeps a record of callouts. Search for it in your phone’s app store.
- Callouts – Check with your school’s main office to make sure you have given up-to-date information that includes multiple methods of contact, including at least two phone numbers (mobile, landline) and an email address.
- Customer Service Hotline: 615-259-4636. Our dedicated call center staff take hundreds of calls on days of inclement weather.
The Tennessean – www.Tennessean.com
- Winter Weather and Ice Story Tips
- MTA Buses – Nashville MTA buses normally operate on snow route detours while AccessRide buses operate with operator discretion. To find out how a specific route may be affected, passengers can pick up brochures detailing the snow route detours on the buses, at Music City Central, in display racks in the downtown area, or view it online at nashvillemta.org under the bus services tab. Customers also may call MTA Customer Care at (615) 862-5950 from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.
- Nashville Electric Service – Customers can call 736-6900 to report power outages.
- Office of Emergency Management – If non-emergency assistance is needed, please call (615) 862-8600. Please remember that calling 911 should only be used for emergencies.