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Weather Related School Closings

District 102 Parents/Guardians,

With winter officially here, it’s time to address the possibility of closing school due to weather. I know and respect that there are differing opinions on weather-related school closings. I will continue to look at each individual weather occurrence as it happens and work with the local Superintendents from Pekin Elementary and Pekin High School Districts to make a decision. Since we share programs and families with those districts, our decision to close school impacts each other and our families. 

One thing that is different this year is that we are able to use a Remote Learning Day instead of an emergency day if we need to close school due to weather. That means the day will count as a student attendance day and will not need to be made up at the end of the year. This is only possible at this year due to the emergency order in place as a result of this current pandemic. If we choose to close school and hold a Remote Learning Day, please note that we will have meal pickup available and will communicate that process when/if the time comes. 

I understand how important it is to be informed of a school closing as early as possible. In an ideal world, you would always know the night before, but as we all know, weather forecasts are not 100% accurate. In my 16 years as a Superintendent, I have seen forecasts change too many times over a 12-hour period. We will work to provide you with as much advance notice as possible, but ultimately, our goal is to make a decision by 6:00 AM the day of the closing. Once the decision is made, it will be shared with parents using our Lumen notification system, social media and through local media.  

In situations of wintry precipitation (snow or ice), I make it a habit of getting out on the roads very early so I can see firsthand what the road conditions are like. We are fortunate to have road crews that work hard throughout the night into the early morning to clear roads and have them ready for the morning’s commute. I will also keep in constant communication with the local Superintendents from Pekin Elementary and Pekin High School Districts to discuss the weather conditions and other related factors.

When considering a closure due to extreme cold temperatures, the Pekin area school districts work together to review multiple weather sources including NWS, Weather Channel and AccuWeather. None of these sources are 100% accurate and their exact forecasts often slightly vary from each other, but all are reliable sources for predicting cold weather as identified by ForecastAdvisor. Based on the information provided by the NWS, frostbite can occur on bare skin after 10 minutes of exposure in extreme conditions of -32. We know this can be a problem for our students waiting for buses or walking to school. A wind chill factor of -25 has always been our general target for making the decision to cancel school. If temps are between -20 and -25, we will strongly consider closing when looking at other factors (ice, snow, road conditions, forecast, etc.). 

We encourage you to talk to your students about dressing appropriately for the weather and making sure they are wearing their coats (not just carrying them) and wearing multiple layers in these extreme conditions. If you are unable to provide appropriate winter clothing for your child (coat, gloves, hat), please contact your child’s building principal. We may be able to help. We have different resources we can contact to help make sure our students are dressed appropriately for the winter weather.

Sincerely,
Byron Sondgeroth

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