• Snow Days: How we inform, when we inform, how we decide, plus makeup days

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     snowman on bench

    The recent dip in temperature is raising the questions that come up every winter in Portland Public Schools. Folks want to know how we decide to delay or close schools, and how any missed classroom dates are handled. Here are answers to questions we often hear:

    Q: How do you inform families about school delays and closures?

    A: Our primary forms of communications for weather issues:

    • Emails: Messages go to the primary email addresses on the student registration form. Remember to update contact information with your school office staff as needed.
    • Phone calls: Auto-dialer calls in all supported languages go to the primary phone numbers on the student registration form. Remember to update contact information with your school office staff as needed.
    • Text alerts: Primary contact cell phone numbers from the student registration form can opt in to receive text alerts by texting “Yes” or “Y” to 68453.
    • Website: pps.net
    • Twitter: Follow our account
    • Facebook: “Like” our account

    We also send updates to all local media, so our decisions are reported on local TV and radio news.

    Q: When do you make the decision about closing schools?

    A: Our goal in each weather event is to gather all the relevant data by 5 a.m., allowing the Superintendent to make a decision on that day’s classes by 5:15 a.m. We then get the message out, with a target time of 5:30 a.m.

    Q: What goes into making closure and delay decisions?

    PPS consults multiple sources about weather and road conditions, and we also gather our own information. A PPS transportation crew personally inspects roads starting at 2:30 a.m. Read more about the process in a PPS Pulse story from March.

    Q: If schools are closed, when are the instructional days made up?

    The district calendar has four days designated as possible makeup days for weather and other reasons. One is Presidents Days, which falls on Monday, Feb. 17 this year. However, for Presidents Day to be used as a makeup day, an announcement would have to be made by Jan. 18. Otherwise, the day remains a holiday, with schools and offices closed.

    The other makeup days are at the end of the school year, this year on June 8, 9 and 10 (the designated last day of school is Friday, June 5). The decision on using those makeup days typically comes after it’s clear that we’re done with snow for the school year. Last year, for example, we announced on March 21 that we would use the first two makeup days for two snow days in February.

    We also used last year’s final makeup day for lost hours from the “Day of Action” in which teachers around the state took a day out of class to advocate for full funding for K-12 public schools.

    Q: What factors go into determining if makeup days are used?

    The purpose of makeup days is to make sure students recover lost instructional hours and to meet state-mandated minimums for instructional time.  Districts can request a waiver from the state, but our priority is to get as much instructional time in as we can.