Jennifer Gill: What goes into a weather cancellation

Due to the recent weather cancellations, there have been several additional “emergency days” added to the school calendar. The final day of school is scheduled to be June 3, 2019. But seniors graduate on June 1, 2019. As of February 13, it was decided, final exams will be May 29, 30, and 31, or that Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Juniors and underclassman will be expected to return to school Monday, June 3 for attendance purposes. Seniors will not return after graduation.

Superintendent Jennifer Gill has set procedures she follows to decide if it is necessary to cancel schools for Springfield Public School District 186. This winter a few snow days were because of the polar vortex which produced wind chills in excess of -60 degrees in northern Illinois and school cancellations is far south as Kentucky.

Ms. Gill “[tries] to make the call before 8:00 p.m. If we can call the night before, and if we have [bad] weather develop overnight or it is not a clear decision, we have a goal of 5:30 a.m.”

The superintendent ultimately makes the decision to cancel schools. But she also contacts resources such as the “Director of Operations and Maintenance, Director of Transportation, and First Student Bus Company.”

When asked what goes into making the difficult decision to cancel schools the Superintendent wrote us,

“[Director of Operations and Maintenance, Director of Transportation, and First Student Bus Company, and myself] consider a number of factors, including the potential effects of short-term exposure to extreme cold as well as precipitation and road conditions.”

“We use multiple apps to help us gage actual weather patterns.  We do not [overreact] because a ‘Code Red [Weather Day]’ is issued.  We try to look at our Springfield area specifically. Sometimes, [WICS News] Channel 20 is covering [the] whole area around Springfield. It is often much worse North of us or in the county with drifting and blowing wind,” Gill wrote.

Superintendent Gill also added that,

“Springfield Public Schools has a plan for communication that starts with Parent Link phone calls, [district] website, Twitter, Facebook, and emails to notify administrators who can communicate with their schools. In addition, we issue a Press Release.”

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