When inclement weather hits central Indiana, the IPS Operations Division jumps into action to determine the best ways to keep our students, families and staff safe. The decision to delay or cancel school and activities is not taken lightly, and we have a team of experts with years of experience weighing in on this critical process.
When snow rolls in overnight or in the early morning, five drivers—three from IPS and two from Durham School Services, the district’s transportation contractor—are on the streets early. They drive in five different areas of the district, on both main streets and side roads, to get as complete a picture of conditions as possible. These drivers all have significant transportation experience, with years of judging the line between safe and unsafe conditions. Many factors play into making important and timely decisions: amount and type of precipitation, temperature/wind chill, visibility, status of clearing roads, status of clearing sidewalks, refreeze of melted snow/ice from previous day, blowing snow and continued snow in the forecast.
One of the key factors is the safety of students at our bus stops. While there is not a hard-set temperature cutoff to determine a delay or cancellation, our Operations team consults the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s wind chill chart to determine potential dangers due to cold weather. As a general guideline, the threshold of 10 minutes to frostbite would lead to cancellation, but the call may be made at less severe temperatures.
By 4:45 a.m., our drivers compare conditions across the city to agree on a recommendation to share with the superintendent. By 5 a.m., our Deputy Superintendent for Operations calls the superintendent to share the recommendation of the team and discuss options for the day. Our goal is to have word to all families and staff before 6 a.m. to ensure as much time to align work and childcare plans as possible.
The decision to open, close or delay school is the product of a team of professionals doing their best to keep IPS students and families safe when weather becomes hazardous and one more example of the district’s commitment to service excellence to our community. We know the meals provided to our students are important to families, which is why our foodservice team provides meals at select sites even on snow days. Keep an eye on our website and social media channels for a list of open meal sites in the event of inclement weather. We also want to ensure students are protected from the cold weather on those chilly days when we remain in session. If your child needs gloves, a coat or other winter gear to stay warm, contact your school social worker to learn more about the support services available to our families.