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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Winter weather Transportation and school-closing decisions

[updated December 4, 2013] What happens in Mansfield ISD when temperatures drop and our area has inclement winter weather?

I checked with our leadership team and the Transportation department to help explain some of the procedures, considerations, and decision-making during winter weather events. Here is what I found out:
  1. At or before 4:00 a.m. a decision is made to deploy the Transportation weather team staff.
  2. Before 4:30 a.m.., the weather team visually inspects various areas across the district of streets for icy, wet, or dry roads along with monitoring the weather information channels.
  3. The weather team contacts the Director of Transportation with their road information.
  4. Road conditions are analyzed along with other related information available from other school districts.
  5. If roads are questionable, the Superintendent is contacted after 4:30 a.m. (but before 5:00 a.m.) to discuss findings and recommendations.
  6. The Superintendent makes a decision by 5:00 a.m. whether or not to close schools.
  7. We use our standard communication channels if any changes to the district schedule require adjustment including the District homepage, weather info webpage, our phone and e-mail notification system, DFW radio and TV news outlets, and via the district's Twitter profile, @mansfieldisd.
Other considerations and notable information
  • Many area school districts' transportation directors have a local phone network so they can stay in communication and provide insight to what is happening road-wise with each other.
  • How does weather forecasting play a part in the decision-making process? While the weather team reports actual conditions, what is expected to happen weather-wise is just as important to the decision process.
  • What about early dismissals? If winter weather conditions worsen during the school day, we determine if an early release is needed to get the students home sooner and bus drivers back to the bus barn safely prior to darkness. We try to make that decision prior to 10:00 a.m. in order to adequately coordinate the dismissal process. As soon as it is determined to dismiss early, the dismissal times for each grade level will be posted immediately on the District's website.
  • How many different bus routes run every day? Each of our MISD buses run three or four schools. We run 165 buses, including Special Needs, but with three bell schedules, that is approximately 660 individual bus trips each morning and then again each afternoon.
We hope this helps provide a little insight into this process.