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Inclement Weather Message for Families

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November 5, 2021

Dear Orange County Schools Families,

Despite some unseasonably warm weeks, it appears the cooler temperatures are here—and as we know, winter weather is likely to cause a disruption to our school days for our students. While certainly not something we wish for, winter weather is something we all need to be prepared for.

The district recognizes that school closings, early dismissals, and delays can be challenging for families to manage. That’s why it’s important for each family to be thinking about a severe weather plan for the following three scenarios:

1.    Delayed opening

2.    Early dismissal

3.    Schools closed

To help you create that plan, we’re sharing more about our strategy. Our team pays close attention to the weather every day. And please be assured, our preference is always to make a decision and notify our families no later than 8:00 p.m. the evening before. Unfortunately weather is unpredictable and there may be instances where we have to make a decision in the morning.

To help us make that decision, our Deputy Superintendent of Operations, Director of Transportation, and their teams check road conditions in addition to reports from local law enforcement and emergency management in deciding safe conditions to operate schools for our students and staff. Our team is also in touch with local weather experts, and we collaborate with our neighboring districts as well. The following provides more details about the three weather scenarios families should plan for.

1. Delayed Opening

A delayed opening may be necessary when road conditions due to inclement weather conditions are not safe for travel on a regular schedule, but are forecasted to improve. When a delayed opening is announced this means the school day will start at the designated later time. For example, if we operate on a two-hour delay, teachers/staff and students should report to their school/worksite two hours later than their typical start time, with the exception of essential staff.  

Additional Details for a Delayed Opening:

  • After-school and athletics may be cancelled

  • After-school care will close at the regular time

2. Early Dismissal

An early dismissal can be called at any time if weather conditions are in the process of or are expected to worsen before the end of the school/work day. An early release will enable students and staff to arrive home before weather conditions worsen. On early release days schools/worksites will close early (e.g. 1-hour, 2-hours early).  After school activities and athletics/sports will be cancelled on early dismissal days.

Additional Details for Early Dismissals:

  • Athletics will be cancelled

  • After-school care will not take place if there is an early dismissal due to inclement weather

  • High school student drivers may be released earlier than the official high school release time so they have extra time to drive home safely

3. Schools Closed

School buildings will be closed for students and staff if there is a strong chance of inclement weather predicted the night before, or if inclement weather is already underway by 5:30 a.m. the morning, or if inclement weather is strongly predicted for later in the school day. There will not be any instruction (e.g. remote learning) on the first three inclement weather days.  Should there be a need for additional inclement weather days, the district may have to make-up instructional hours or days at the end of the school year.  

Additional Details for At-home Remote Learning Day:

  • Athletics will be cancelled

  • After-school care is cancelled

You can rely on getting your information about these three scenarios (related to weather) by checking your phone.  All families will receive a phone call and families who have opted in to text messaging will also receive a text message.  HOW TO RECEIVE TEXT MESSAGES  We also share updates on our website and our social media accounts (Facebook and Twitter), along with telling local news stations about our decision. If we haven’t communicated about a delay, early dismissal, or closing, know that school is in session like normal.

We take all severe weather decisions very seriously, and we ALWAYS put the safety of students and staff above all else. As a result, we will always err on the side of safety. Thank you for understanding. 

Our number one goal for our district is to provide access to an excellent education for all our students. We look forward to doing so safely this winter.  If you have any questions or need more information please contact your child’s school.