Inclement Weather Emergency Procedures
On snowy winter mornings students of all ages across Stafford County may ask this question. How will Stafford County Schools determine whether schools will be closed or delayed? The answer results from many hours of assessment by Stafford County Public School staff.
Stafford County Public Schools Policy 5906 states “The superintendent/designee may order the closing, a delay in opening, or the early dismissal of any or all schools in order to protect the safety and welfare of the students and staff."
Often we are asked, “how did you make the decision to close or not to close schools today?” The process involves many staff members and community organizations. On mornings when inclement weather (snow, ice, rain, hurricanes, etc) is expected or is a possibility, the Stafford County Public Schools’ weather operations center opens.
Based on forecast predictions and probabilities, a school division team consisting of 5 members are assigned sectors to assess road conditions and hazards to bus drivers. Depending on circumstances a two man team will be on the road at 1:00 a.m. checking road conditions, school driveways, parking lots and sub-divisions. Warranting further analysis the 5 man team is assembled at 4:00 a.m. and communicate the road conditions in their sectors to the schools weather operations center.
At 4:00 a.m. the Stafford County School Board inclement weather operations center opens.
- The Sheriff's Office, the Fire and Rescue Department and their Office of Emergency Management, VDOT and other school divisions are contacted for updates on current road conditions and any particular areas of concern.
- The Stafford County School Board weather operations center in collaboration with the Fire and Rescue Department and their Office of Emergency Management work closely in monitoring weather forecasts through a variety of weather sites and contact other school divisions to determine their opening, closing or delay status.
- By 4:20 a.m. the school division weather operations center contacts the Fire and Rescue Department and their Office of Emergency Management severe weather core group to discuss weather and road conditions in order to make recommendations to the Superintendent of Schools and the County Administrator regarding schools and County government status. The Core group consists of the Sheriff's Office, Fire and Rescue, and Schools. The core group communicates their recommendation to the County Administrator and Superintendent of Schools for decisions on the operational status of county government and schools.
- By 4:45 a.m. the Severe Weather County Leadership Group is assembled through a conference call to announce decisions, provide information, guidance and discuss strategies and or necessary emergency protective measures as appropriate. The leadership team is composed of department and division directors and managers; county government and the school division.
By or before 5:00 the Superintendent of Schools makes the final decision regarding opening of schools.
At 5:30 a.m. the following steps are taken:
- The decision to close or delay opening of schools is relayed to a number of radio and television stations in the Fredericksburg, Richmond and Metro DC areas.
- The information is posted on the School website at www.staffordschools.net and on the central office voice mail system at 658-6698.
- The information is shared with the Stafford County Alert Email System Staffordalert.com.
- If the decision is to delay the opening of school, the road assessment team continues to check the road conditions. The weather operations center staff continues to monitor weather forecast information and to check with other school divisions on their final decision for opening schools.
- The road assessment team reports to the weather operations center by 7:15 a.m. and a final recommendation is made to the superintendent for maintaining the delayed opening or for closing for the day.
WHERE TO FIND SCHOOL CLOSING ANNOUNCEMENTS
All local radio and television stations are informed of school closings and delays.
Families may wish to check with several media sources to verify closing information.
The Stafford Schools’ website at www.staffordschools.net posts the information as soon as the decision is made. (Remember to “Refresh” or “Reload” each time you visit the site!) Also, the Free-Lance Star’s website at www.fredericksburg.com also posts the closings and delays.
- WFLS - 93.3
- WBQB - 101.5
- WGRQ - 95.9
- WTOP - 103.5 & 107.7
- 95.9 & 104.5
- WFVA - 1230
- WJLA - CH 7 ABC
- Newschannel 8
- WRC - CH 4 NBC
- WTTG - CH 5 FOX
- WUSA - CH 9 CBS
- WTVR - CH 6 CBS
- WWBT - CH 12 NBC
- Comcast Channel 18
- Cox Channel 18
or call 540-658-6698
Stafford County’s alert system is another avenue for receiving emergency notifications from the schools and from other Stafford County agencies. Go to www.staffordalert.com to register.