Sometimes when roads become icy or snow covered or temperatures drop to dangerous levels, the District makes the decision to delay or close school. The following is a Q&A on how the process works and what you should be aware of as the Old Man Winter visits Pennsylvania once again.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
How is the decision to delay or close school determined?
The process to determine if Gateway schools will delay or close because of inclement weather begins at 4 a.m. The District Transportation Department works closely with the Monroeville Public Works Department, First Student Bus Company, and the Monroeville Police Department to determine the condition of the roads. Weather forecasts are also monitored during the day and evening to help determine future weather patterns and weather alerts that will impact the morning commute. The District relies upon the expert opinion of its municipal and transportation partners to determine if the roadways in Monroeville and Pitcairn are safe for buses and cars to travel upon.
Who makes the decision to delay or close?
The decision to delay of close school rests with the Superintendent of Schools or, in her absence, the Assistant Superintendent.
How are parents/guardians alerted to a school closing or delay?
Once the decision to delay or close is made by the Superintendent, the Director of Communications is alerted and the notification process for parents begins.
First a message is sent to all District families via the District's emergency communication system, Alert Now. These messages are delivered via home phone, cell phone, email, or text to families. This rapid notification system allows everyone to be notified within three minutes.
Parents and Guardians are encouraged to monitor the following Pittsburgh media outlets for information on Gateway School District delays and closings:
KDKA Radio (1020 AM)
KQV Radio (1410 AM)
KDKA Television (Channel 2)
WTAE Television (Channel 4)
WPXI Television (Channel 11)
Other options include district email alerts and postings on our web site at www.gatewayk12.org. There will also be a recorded message on the district's information line at 412-373-8000.
What time frame does the District use for closings and delays?
The District does its very best to make its decision to delay or close by 5:30 a.m. Keep in mind, due to changing weather and road conditions, the District sometimes must make the decision to close at a later time. Since we are at the mercy of Mother Nature, and lake effect show squalls can be unpredictable, parents and guardians should always be prepared for a sudden change of plans due to deteriorating road conditions. Safety for our students and your children is always our number one priority.
If there is a two hour delay, what time does school start?
All Gateway schools will add two hours to their normal start time. Dismissal will occur at the normal time.
What if inclement weather strikes while students are in school?
If snow begins to fall while school is in session, the District will, most likely, not elect to dismiss early. Early dismissal creates a problem for those younger (elementary) students who are not old enough to return home alone. Often, we find that by keeping the students safely in school, the road crews can treat the roads making them safer for travel when dismissal occurs.
When would the District elect to dismiss early?
If there is a power or heating issue in a school and it is determined that the school can not remain open safety, then a decision would be made to either relocated the students to another building or, in the worst case scenario, dismiss early. In all cases, parents will be alerted of the situation via an Alert Now phone message. the web site, and the Constant Contact email service.
If inclement weather alerts are issued by the local or national weather forecasters, we recommend that parents/guardians monitor local media, the web site, and retrieve their voice messages so you can receive timely information in case of an early dismissal.
At what temperature does the District delay?
Snow and ice isn't the only reason that the District would delay or close. Frigid temperatures, that pose a risk to students who are walking or waiting for the bus, would necessitate a delay or possible closing. Although making this decision, based upon temperatures, is not an exact science, the District, and other surrounding districts, try to use the 10 degree below freezing wind chill as a guide. This is considered a dangerous temperature.
What is a Snow Day?
According to the Pennsylvania School Code, Commonwealth Districts are to build snow days into their calendars so that students are able to achieve the required 180 days of instruction per year.
Gateway, when it sets its yearly calendar, builds three snow days into the calendar. This is done by capturing days that were originally scheduled as a day off for students and staff. These days are posted on the District's calendar that an be viewed on the web site (www.gatewayk12.org).
If we experience a very snowy winter, and we exhaust all of the scheduled snow days, then the District adds any additional snow make up days to the end of the school year, thus extending the last day of school.
Does the District ever elect to delay or close school the evening before?
Yes. If weather forecasts for the morning commute are predicted to be dangerous, icy, or snowy, the District may elect to call a delay or closing the night before. If this happens, the news stations will be notified and parents will be sent an Alert Now phone message, along with an email. This information will also be posted on the web site and will be on the District Hot Line.
How late will the District make this decision?
The District will not enact the Alert Now call system any later than 10:30 p.m.
How early will I be contacted about a school delay or closing?
The Alert Now phone system will not call anyone prior to 5:30 a.m.
What if I feel that the road conditions are not safe, but school remains open. Can I elect to keep my child home from school?
Yes. You are the parent/guardian and have the right to keep your child home if you believe that travel is unsafe for your child. Keep in mind; however, that if you elect to do so, your child will be charged with a day's absence and will berequired to make up any work missed.