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Reminders for inclement weather procedures

posted Jan 6, 2017, 10:46 AM by Cheryl Shuffler

            Communication between school and home is a priority for Burke County Public Schools, especially during periods of inclement weather. Burke County Public Schools uses a variety of means to notify parents and guardians of school delays, closings or early dismissals, including SchoolMessenger, our website, social media and local and regional media outlets.

The SchoolMessenger broadcast system allows Burke County Public Schools to contact households by phone, email and text messaging simultaneously and within minutes of district leaders making a decision regarding a school delay, closing or early dismissal. In addition, the announcement immediately goes up on www.burke.k12.nc.us, Facebook and Twitter (@BurkeCoSchools). To be among the first to know about a weather-related decision, follow Superintendent Dr. Larry Putnam on Twitter @LarryLputnam. The News Herald, WMNC The Big Dawg 92.1 FM / 1430 AM and Foothills Weather Network, as well as regional radio stations and TV stations also are immediately notified once a decision is made. If the school system and media sources are not announcing information concerning Burke County Public Schools, schools will operate on a normal schedule.

Dr. Putnam said during threats of bad weather, district officials constantly monitor several weather models and communicate closely with the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, N.C. Department of Transportation, local law enforcement and Burke County Emergency Services.

“We also have our own people out driving around different areas of the county to survey the road conditions for ourselves,” Dr. Putnam said. “At the same time, we are conferring with surrounding school systems to take into consideration the decisions they are making regarding a cancelation, delay or early dismissal. The bottom line is we are well equipped to make the best decisions for our students, and we have their safety as our top priority.”

Dr. Putnam explained variables district leaders consider when making a decision, including inexperienced student drivers and their safety, school bus safety, bus drivers’ schedules and the school cafeterias as they prepare what may be the only hot meal some students get each day.

Other variables are the county’s size and diverse terrain. Dr. Putnam said, “Burke County is a large county and weather conditions can vary from one end of the county to the other. With the mountains that surround us, we always seem to be on the unpredictable line. Will we get ice, sleet, freezing rain, snow, all of the above or none of the above? And if the white stuff falls and sticks, in some areas of the county it melts faster than in others.”

Dr. Putnam encouraged parents to prepare now for inclement weather by thinking ahead and developing a plan should school inclement weather disrupt the normal school day.

“No matter what decision we make,” Dr. Putnam said, “we realize someone will be inconvenienced. We respect our hard-working moms and dads and their work schedules and struggles with child care when inclement weather disrupts our routines. We do not take lightly the impact of the decisions we make during inclement weather and the resulting domino effects. It’s a big responsibility with 13,000 students and 2,000 staff members. We ask for patience, understanding and that you do your part and plan ahead.”  

Childcare programs follow the school system’s policy on severe weather. If school is cancelled, then the childcare program also will be cancelled. A decision to hold extracurricular events will be made on a case-by-case basis. School decisions related to the weather will be made as soon as possible and by no later than 5:30 a.m.


SchoolMessenger Tips

·       Make sure the school office has your up-to-date contact information. If you change phone numbers or no longer wish to receive SchoolMessenger calls, notify the school.

·       To receive text messages, your cell phone number has to be on file at the school, and you have to opt-in to the service by texting YES to 68453. If you wish to no longer receive text messages, text STOP to 68453.

·       The caller ID number from SchoolMessenger is your school’s main phone number for school-specific calls and 828-433-8047 for Burke County Public Schools district-wide calls.