ATLsuper Blog

When Inclement Weather Threatens APS

Update (4:50 p.m., Sunday, December 10): Atlanta Public Schools is resuming normal school operations tomorrow, Monday, Dec. 11. After a review of our buildings, power, staffing, roads and weather, including information from city and state officials as well as neighboring school districts, APS will operate its normal school schedule tomorrow. 

Ensuring the safety of our students and staff continues to be among our top priorities, and we encourage everyone to exercise caution when traveling throughout the metropolitan area.

Update (2:01 p.m., Sunday, December 10): Atlanta Public Schools is anticipating resuming normal school operations tomorrow.  While there are reports that power is out and icy road conditions persist in certain parts of the metropolitan area, especially Cobb, only one APS school is currently without power (working to get restored). Based on information shared from city officials many city of Atlanta roads are clear; however, because many district staff live outside the city we are also monitoring neighboring area suburbs for potential icy road conditions, power outages, and impacts to staffing.  Currently, we are looking good on power, roads, school staffing, bus driver staffing, subs and HVAC.

We will continue to monitor these conditions throughout today and we will provide an update by 5:00pm after we have had a full report. At that time, we can consider any potential adjustments to the normal school schedule and will announce accordingly.  Please remember to exercise caution when traveling throughout the metropolitan area.

Update (12:45 p.m., Friday, December 8): In consultation with the State of Georgia and the City of Atlanta, and in order to ensure the safety of our students and staff, we are working toward a one hour early release of schools and closure of our offices. Even with an early dismissal, because of the traffic and weather conditions, we are anticipating that students, at best, will make it home at the regular time. This allows us to get all students back to school who are currently out on field trips. The State and City are keeping their offices open on a regular schedule, in order to help manage traffic flow. These are wet conditions NOT freezing conditions so we are not putting students and staff in danger.

We are canceling after school and weekend activities as well. The City of Atlanta has also canceled its after school programming.

Colder temperatures began arriving in Atlanta this week along with threats of more wintry weather such as sleet and snow. Based on the current forecast from the National Weather service, we do not anticipate inclement weather to hit our region until after classes on Friday. So we plan to be in school tomorrow, December 8. But that doesn’t mean we stop closely watching the weather.

In fact, we will continue to monitor the weather tonight, tomorrow and throughout the weekend and provide updates as appropriate should weather conditions impact after school programming or weekend activities.

At this time of the year, it can be frustrating and sometimes scary not knowing how bad weather may impact you and your family, especially when our littlest ones are on buses or walking home or even while you are at work and trying to get home yourself.

That’s why Atlanta Public Schools has a set of protocols in place so we can plan in advance and during real time for pending weather. Even before we faced dangerous weather amid Hurricane Irma in September, APS had already established how the district prepares and handles school business amid such conditions and how APS will notify the school community in a timely manner so that you can plan accordingly.

Remember: Amid any threat of inclement weather, our No. 1 concern is the safety of our students and our staff.

So as winter approaches, I wanted to remind our students, families, staff and others about the APS protocol for inclement weather.

When severe weather threatens Atlanta, we diligently update our website and keep every school principal notified. Whenever you feel the need to contact APS about weather issues, please call your school first. I make certain all principals are updated in real time about our inclement weather decisions, so they will always have the information.

I also encourage you to log in to the campus portal for parents, update your preferences for emergency notifications, which include robo-calls, text messages and e-mails at http://www.atlantapublicschools.us/CPP.

I have addressed our weather procedures in considerable detail on this blog in the past, outlining the full decision process about when we close school operations should weather conditions impede a safe school day.

Here is a summary of how it works:

Before severe weather is even predicted, I analyze with our operations and human resources team as much as I can about the housing, living and travel patterns of our staff, especially the support staff who we depend on to pick up our students on school buses, safely get them across the street as crossing guards and to prepare meals at breakfast and lunch in food service, and do much more. Many of our staff live outside of the city, and it becomes important that we know how that would affect our operations during the day if they were not in attendance. Sometimes weather in another community can impact our school district by default. These are all small but important details that go into my decision-making.

So, when severe weather is predicted for our area, the next step begins where we prepare immediately by monitoring the weather and holding conversations throughout the day and, if necessary, throughout the night and early morning hours with Atlanta Fulton County Emergency Management, Georgia Emergency Management, and the National Weather Service to help us make the best decisions for our students’ safety.

We then launch our severe Core Weather Team, which includes representatives from APS Operations, Transportation, Safety & Security, Facilities Services, Communications, Curriculum and Instruction, Nutrition and Information Technology departments. We conduct information calls with area superintendents, the City of Atlanta’s chief operating officer’s team, the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency and others. In these conference calls, we rely heavily on information provided by the National Weather Service and local meteorologists to provide the best and most reliable information. The meteorologists often want to wait as late as possible, when better data allows for more accurate forecasts and precise solutions. Sometimes, this wait can conflict with the district’s need to notify families early as possible.

Once we make a decision about school operations during bad weather, we will begin notifying parents and caregivers as soon as possible.

In the end, the superintendent does make the final call as to whether schools close for inclement weather. However, it is important that the district coordinates with outside agencies so that these decisions are not made in a vacuum.

We understand our school community’s desire for timely information, and we do our very best to balance this desire with the need for coordinated community-wide emergency planning in these situations. In the meantime … stay warm and stay safe!