It’s the time of year to remind everyone about the Portland Public Schools' inclement weather policy and how such decisions get made.
This year, bad weather events will be traditional “snow days.” That means our schools will be closed and students will not be expected to go to school in person or learn remotely. Educators will not be expected to work. We will make those days up at the end of the year.
We will not be holding inclement weather remote learning days as we did last year. We experienced significant challenges to being able to do that successfully for all our schools. Also, with the limited opportunities to have the advance notice required to execute on remote days meaningfully, we believe it’s clearest for students, families, and staff to plan on traditional snow days.
Our district calendar currently has us ending the school year on June 14 for students and June 15 for school year staff. Snow days will extend those dates. We will update the district calendar with revised end-of-the-school-year dates as we go along.
Here’s a quick reminder of our snow day procedures:
On bad weather days, the superintendent typically decides whether to cancel or delay school in the morning. His decision is based on weather forecasts and consultations with school and city transportation staff and area school superintendents.
The goal is to make a decision by 5:30 a.m. That gives parents time to make alternate childcare arrangements and alert staff that we are not having school. When possible we make the decision the night before.
We notify our families and staff about school delays and cancellations in a variety of ways. We send out robocalls, texts and emails. We notify local television channels to put us on their “schools closings” lists for that day. We post notices on the district’s website and on the district’s television cable channels 3 & 1302; and on Facebook and Twitter. We try to complete these notifications between 5:30 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.
As Maine’s largest school district in the state’s largest city, we don’t always make the same snow day decisions as surrounding districts. The transportation logistics in Portland for our approximately 6,500 students are different from those in other communities. For example, we sometimes have to cancel school the day after a big snowstorm, when other school districts are open. The streets in Portland may be plowed, but sidewalks aren’t yet clear, making it too difficult for our students who walk to school.
We prioritize safe passage in our decision-making, but recognize that we don’t always make the call that everyone would like us to make. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we balance all of the competing demands on these inclement weather days.