A reminder about cold weather safety and closings

A reminder about cold weather safety and closings
Posted on 01/29/2019
Recess and outdoor play

Each year, we receive questions regarding outdoor play at recess for students during the winter season. These guidelines have been prepared by Larry Denk, M.D., School Physician, and Mary Lou Popolizio, M.S., PNP School Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. If children are properly clothed, they can participate in safe, vigorous play in an outdoor environment in most weather conditions. During cold temperatures less than 20 degrees F, children are at risk of cold-related injury. In particular, the younger the child, the less physical adaptive reactions they have to cold stress. Shivering is one physical adaptive mechanism that alerts caretakers to the negative effects of cold exposure on the child. However, children can safely play outdoors in cold temperatures over 20 degrees F if properly dressed. For elementary school-aged children we are concerned about periods of inactivity while outside. Therefore, we have chosen a temperature of 20 degrees F or higher for allowing children to be outside for a planned or structured sedentary activity (including standing in line). This does not apply to individual children who choose to stand around or sit around at a time when there is opportunity for play and running around; such children will be encouraged to be active at all temperatures. School personnel will not plan sedentary activities in cold weather and will not expect students to be inactive while outside in cold weather. When outdoor temperatures and wind chill factors are greater than or equal to 20 degrees F, children will be allowed to play outdoors with adult supervision if adequately dressed with hats, mittens or well insulated gloves, and boots. This applies to all children who are physically well enough to attend school. West Irondequoit will continue to follow the advice of the Monroe County Health Department in using -25 degrees F wind chill as the threshold for closing schools due to cold. As always, parents may choose to keep their children home on any day they deem too dangerous for travel.

Closings and Delays

There may be times, due to adverse weather conditions or other emergencies when it will be necessary to close one or more schools. The district will contact parents via our automated phone system using numbers provided by families at the start of the school year. We will also alert major television and radio channels (TV 8, 9, 10, 13 and 1180 AM and 1370 AM.)
If the determination to close is made before the opening of school, every effort will be made to notify families by 6:00 a.m. at one phone number per family. There may be occasions when the start of school is delayed. For example, a one-hour delay would mean that schools would open one hour later than the normal schedule. Buses would pick students up one hour later. The school day would end at the regularly scheduled time.

Should it be necessary to close school during the day, the district will take actions to ensure the safety of children and staff, and parents will be notified using our automated phone system. The following procedures will apply:

K-8: Parents must fill out and return an Emergency Notification Form in September. It is crucial that we always have correct, up to date phone numbers. If the principal feels that students can reach their destination safely, students will be released in accordance with instructions on each child’s emergency form. Review with your child the procedure to be followed if they arrive at home and you are not there. If conditions permit, buses will be available to transport students who regularly ride the bus.

9-12: Students (except handicapped students requiring transportation) who feel that they can reach their destinations safely will be dismissed. All other students will remain in school until satisfactory arrangements can be made.

Please review with your children, neighbors and relatives the plans you have pre-arranged, should an early dismissal or emergency school closing occur. It is crucial that parents understand the emergency notification procedures we are using and that you think about how you and your children will respond under these rare conditions. We appreciate your efforts to keep your child’s emergency plan up-to-date as family schedules and circumstances change.