The decision to close or delay schools is a weighty topic. The decision is never taken lightly. There are procedures in place to check current and predicted weather events that may have an impact on road conditions and school operations. This includes contacting the National Weather Service, Law Enforcement, State Department of Transportation, Orange County Emergency Management, and other agencies.
Past weather events may not be great predictors of future weather events. Our system embraces the concept that the type of weather expected cannot always be predictable or determined to occur at an exact time period. Because of the size of Orange County, we can experience hazardous conditions in one area of the county and not in another.
When there is an anticipated weather event, district staff monitors the weather updates from the National Weather Service throughout the day and night. Changes in the weather can occur at what seems like the snap of a finger, and our decision making process has to be responsive. This requires constant updates and assessments from all areas in our district.
The safety of our students and staff is paramount. The school system does not and will not gamble with their safety. School buses and young high school drivers can face particularly daunting driving conditions under inclement weather. Our earliest bus routes have some of our school buses on the road at 5:30am. And, the National Weather Service will, at times, issues warnings that inexperienced drivers should stay off the roadways when potentially hazardous conditions may exist.
"We understand that our decisions regarding weather impact nearly 7,500 families and 1,500 employees; their safety is our number one priority,” said Dr. Todd Wirt, Superintendent of Orange County Schools. “We know that when we do cancel schools that we have many students that will not get the two hot meals that we provide them every single day, and we strongly consider the number of high school age drivers we have and their inexperience in driving,” continued Superintendent Wirt.
“Our staff spends hours riding roads and collaborating with local agencies in order to have the most current and accurate information at our disposal. At the end of the process, we always make the decision that we believe will keep our students and staff safe and will never apologize for that," added Superintendent Wirt. When hazardous conditions do exist, OCS staff works around the clock to clear parking lots, sidewalks, and building entrances/exits. Then, when school reopens, students and staff can have safe passage to school and work.
Orange County Schools appreciates your continued support and understanding. For the latest in weather updates and school news, follow OCS Twitter and Facebook pages, in addition to the district website.