The decision to delay or close schools is one of the hardest calls we have to make, balancing safety with the uncertainty of weather predictions and the extreme disruption closures cause for our families and for student learning.
In this administration, we have improved our coordination with our neighboring districts, and based on today’s forecast, we felt that operating on a normal schedule was the best choice. I understand that at some point, OKCPS may have had a regulation or practice regarding closing for low temperatures, but today these calls are always done on a case-by-case basis.
I have also learned from listening to our community and our peers that the practice of closing for low temperatures is extremely disruptive to the entire metro area, and we should consider it only when there is a dire threat to student safety.
Although it was bitterly cold this morning for the commute, our schools and buses were warm thanks to bond-supported HVAC investments and new bus engine heaters which help us ensure that diesel engines will start. We also have a have a very robust program to provide winter coats for students via our Coat-A-Kid program with the Foundation for OKCPS, with nearly 20,000 coats ordered since 2014.
That said, we have to think about the whole student. It’s not just lost time in the classroom that we worry about. We have to make sure all of our children are fed. Each day, OKCPS provides more than 50,000 meals and snacks, not to mention our new after-school supper program which serves more than 400 students at Heronville Elementary alone.
District leaders stay abreast to inclement weather conditions by monitoring weather radar, information provided by the National Weather Service and local media meteorologists, and weather and road condition information provided by City Officials. I will make the decision to cancel school when these reputable sources indicate weather and / or road conditions that could endanger the health and safety of our students and staff. Our teams continue to assess conditions, and we will communicate any cancellations via the channels outlined in our Student Handbook.