Closures and Delays
If no schedule changes are posted, schools and buses are operating on normal schedules.
Emergencies such as inclement weather, power outages and hazardous road conditions can alter school schedules and affect bus transportation. The decision to close or delay schools is made by the superintendent as early as possible, usually around 5:30 a.m. Early dismissals will occur only if a delay in dismissal significantly increases hazards.
Who is responsible for clearing and maintaining public walkways and walking routes to school? Public sidewalks, off of District property, are maintained by the individual property owner, an HOA, or associated city. The District is responsible for maintenance of school property.
Who is responsible for clearing and maintaining roads near schools? The city or county are responsible for maintaining roads leading to our schools. We have requested that our public works partners make them a priority during an inclement weather incident. This request has been made for several years, and we will continue to advocate for our students, staff, and families.
Can the District implement a 2-hour delay for one school, but keep all other schools on a normal schedule? No. To delay the opening of a single school or a few schools would create multiple logistical problems. Our bus schedules are staggered, meaning schools start at different times with thirty minutes of flexible time in between. This staggered approach allows us to serve many different schools and programs with the same drivers. By delaying one school, we impact the operations of multiple schools within the district.
Why aren’t the school parking lots cleared of ice during a snowstorm? While our four large snow plows work well for snow removal, unlike city and county equipment they are not built to remove ice in our lots. Instead, we use de-icer and sand to melt the ice and provide additional traction. In most circumstances this approach works well, but if temperatures fluctuate, we need to sand and use de-icer after every freeze. Our grounds crew begins working at 5 a.m. and we prioritize schools most affected by severe weather, working to get to all schools early in the day.
What other areas of the school campus are addressed after or during a snowstorm? Our focus is to ensure our school campuses are as safe as possible. This includes sanding and using de-icer on our parking lots, clearing main walkways, portable ramps, special education bus zones, and entrances. Clearing main walkways, portable ramps, bus zones, and school entrances are the priority to open schools; the parking areas are addressed later.
The roads are icy. How are buses prepared for winter conditions? Almost all of the district’s buses are equipped with automatic chains to mitigate road conditions. All drivers are trained how to install chains if needed.
Is there a way for my student to receive alerts when school is closed or delayed? Yes, any student who would like to receive emergency notifications can sign up for Flash Alerts, a self subscription to the Puget Sound Emergency Message System. The District uses this system to notify media of closures, delays, and snow routes, and individuals can also sign up. Information is added to Flash Alert by 5:30 a.m. or earlier if possible. Messaging goes out from the district through phone call, text, and email shortly after.
It isn’t safe for my high school child to drive to school. Is there another option? We understand winter weather is challenging, especially for newer drivers. If you or your child is outside the walk zone, they have access to a Northshore School Bus. Routes can be found by going to Northshore’s Versatrans Inclement Weather Routes page. Login information is provided on the page. This website will give your student’s bus stop when the district is on snow routes. District buses are equipped with automatic chains to mitigate road conditions. If the district is not on snow routes, information about our regular schedule and routes can be found at Northshore’s Versatrans 2023-24 School Bus Routes page. Login information is provided on the page. If you live within the walk zone, on “snow days” or when the roads are icy, another option is to drive your student to and from school or utilize public transportation, if available in your area.
I am a student who drives and I don’t feel safe driving to high school. Is there another option? As mentioned, we understand winter weather is challenging, especially for new drivers. If you live outside the walk zone, you have access to a Northshore School Bus. You can find the route by going to Northshore’s Versatrans Inclement Weather Routes page, this will give you your bus stop when the district is on snow routes. District buses are equipped with automatic chains to mitigate road conditions. If the district is not on snow routes you can go to Northshore’s Versatrans 2023-24 School Bus Routes page. If you live within the walk zone, on “snow days” or when the roads are icy, another option for you to consider is asking an adult in your home to drive you to and from school or utilize public transportation, if available in your area.
My student needs to miss school because of snow or poor road conditions. Is the absence excused? Yes. We understand families need to make decisions about attendance based on their own circumstances.