The cold weather season is upon us and when the forecast turns snowy, we understand that you want to know as soon as possible how your child’s school will be impacted. Our goal is to lay out our process and answer some of your most frequently asked questions here so you can be more informed on the how, what, when and why of our inclement weather decisions.
How do we decide whether to close or delay school due to snow or extremely cold temperatures/wind chills?
Closing or delaying school is not something we do lightly. Ultimately, safety comes first including the safety of our students, families, teachers, staff, bus drivers and others in the community.
We try to make the decision as early as possible. But, weather is unpredictable and making the call depends on a number of factors that are sometimes quickly changing. IPS has a team of experts with years of experience weighing in on this critical process.
What’s the process?
First, let’s talk about snow. When snow rolls in overnight or in the early morning hours, the deputy superintendent for operations and the transportation director drive in different areas of the district, on both main streets and side roads, to get as complete a picture of conditions as possible. Many factors play into making important and timely decisions including:
- Amount and type of precipitation
- Temperature/wind chill
- Status of clearing roads and sidewalks
- Refreeze of melted snow/ice from the previous day
- Continued snow in the forecast
By 4:45 a.m., conditions are assessed across the city. By 5 a.m., the deputy superintendent for operations calls the superintendent to share their recommendation and discuss options for the day.
When dealing with the extreme cold, the process is a little different. There is no magic number for school delays/cancellations when it comes to air temperatures and/or wind chills because there are so many variables to consider.
IPS closely monitors the National Weather Service and NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) for regular weather updates and forecasts.
Our general protocols for each are as follows:
For Extremely Cold Temperatures
- Air temperatures that are forecasted significantly below 0 degrees for 7 a.m. (when our first wave of students are headed to the bus stops) could trigger a two-hour delay.
- If those temperatures aren’t forecasted to improve by 9 a.m. (when a two-hour delay would end), then schools could be cancelled.
For Extreme Wind Chills
- Wind chill prediction is more of a moving target than air temperatures because of varying wind speeds from place to place.
- As a general guideline, IPS uses the NOAA wind chill chart: https://www.myips.org/cms/lib/IN01906626/Centricity/Domain/11677/windchillchart3.pdf
- When wind chills start to approach the 10 minutes to frostbite range, we consider that the danger zone.
- We look at the locally forecasted wind chills for our district and if they’re predicted to fall near the danger zone by 7 a.m., we would consider a two-hour delay.
- If wind chills aren’t expected to improve by 9 a.m. (when a two-hour delay would end), we would consider a cancellation.
When is the final call made?
The goal is to inform all families and staff before 6 a.m. to ensure as much time to align work and childcare plans as possible.
Where can I get the most accurate information on school closings or changes?*
- In the case of emergency for a weather-related closing, delay, or early dismissal, the IPS website (https://www.myips.org/) will automatically include an alert at the top of the homepage.
- We will also post all alerts on IPS social media so be sure you can access our Facebook page (Indianapolis Public Schools @IPSSchools) or Twitter feed (@IPSSchools).
- These are the only places we can assure you’re getting the correct information. However, we will share the information with WTHR, WRTV, Fox59, CBS4 and WISH to include on their websites and scroll across the bottom of the television screen
- We also offer a free, emergency alert text, call and email service through the District. Make sure your current phone numbers and email addresses are updated with your child’s school.
*If your student attends an Innovation Network School, CHECK WITH YOUR SCHOOL for accurate information on any school opening or closing changes.
Frequently Asked Questions
If there’s early dismissal due to inclement weather, will my child still receive transportation services?
Yes, although due to road conditions there may be delays.
In the case of early dismissal due to inclement weather are after-school, clubs and/or evening programs cancelled?
All after-care, activities, sports, and evening programs are cancelled if school is closed or closed early due to weather.
What about Innovation Network Schools?
Each Innovation Network School makes their own decision about weather, so contact them directly for updates!