Communicating About the Weather

When weather conditions affect schools, it is critical that parents and families receive accurate information in a timely manner.  School districts need to use a variety of media to provide this information in order to reach the school community.

Local Television and Radio

All districts are familiar with the services that local television and radio stations provide to their viewing and listening audiences.  It is important to take advantage of as many of those stations as possible.  Don’t ignore any of them even if you think that your community doesn’t watch or listen to one of them.

Web Site

Your district web site is a critical spot for current school closing information.  Front and center on your web page should be up-to-date information about whether your schools are open, closed, closing early, or using a delayed-start option.  Some sample statements are:

  • Posted at 5:00 a.m., Thursday, [date]  – 2 hour delay for all _______ School District [and Parochial Schools].  No morning Early Childhood, Head Start, or 4K classes.
  • Posted at 4:00 a.m., Wednesday [date] – All ____________ School District [and Parochial Schools] are CLOSED and all after-school activites are cancelled.
  • Posted at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday [date] – All _____________ School District [and Parochial Schools] will close early at 1:30 p.m.
  • All _____________ School District [and Parochial Schools] are OPEN, Thursday, [date]

Cable Television

If your district uses it cable television channel regularly to communicate with the community, be sure to use it for closing information.

Prior Communication

The closing of school always creates a lot of conversation and sometimes controversy.  For every person who believes that it was a good decision to close school, there is another person who thought it was a bad decision.  Communicating with parents prior to the event may help to alleviate some problems by providing them with some parameters and the thought process that goes into the decision.  Consider sending a Weather Related School Closing Information letter at the beginning of the snow season to parents.

Decisions Because of the Wind Chill Factor

When the reporter asks you why you chose to close school because of the wind chill, it helps to have a solid decision making process to share.  Often school districts in a county agree on specific criteria to guide their decisions.  Here is a sample: Wind Chill Chart and Closure Guidelines.

Links on Web Site

Some districts use a link on their Web site to the local television station information about school closings.  In that way, families can check out the necessary school closure information in the area and will be drawn to the district’s Web site for any additional information that will be provided.

About the author

The Wisconsin School Public Relations Association (WSPRA) is a professional association representing schools, school districts, educational associations, consulting agencies and organizations. WSPRA is a state affiliate of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA). 4797 HAYES ROAD | SUITE 103 | MADISON, WI 53704 | PHONE: 608-241-0300 | WSPRA@AWSA.ORG