Superintendent Kathryn Sheridan explains how the decision is made...

Hot chololate PhotoWe are sharing the District’s inclement weather protocol and our procedure for operations in the event the weather impacts our school attendance.  When the weather is severe, it’s helpful to be familiar with the procedures that District 96 will follow, should there be a need to cancel classes and/or evening activities.

The decision to close school or host a remote learning day is quite complex....

With the safety of our students and staff foremost in mind, decisions to close are circumstance-specific. Considerations include the following:

  • Temperature (-20 degrees Fahrenheit or colder) and Wind Chill (a wind chill of -35 degrees Fahrenheit is dangerous, as exposure for more than 20–30 minutes makes the skin susceptible to frostbite)
  • Conditions for our students who walk to school
  • The ability of school bus drivers to report to work on time and the ability of buses to function
  • The stability of weather predictions. That is, how likely is it that between 5:30 a.m. and 8:45 a.m., on the school day in question, the weather will truly be what was predicted (with wind chill predictions typically more stable than snow predictions)
  • Conditions in our buildings (heat/water/electricity/access to parking lots and sidewalks)

Likewise, administrators must consider other possibilities:

  • How long can a student wait safely at a bus stop for a bus that could be delayed?
  • What will be the consequences for passengers if a bus should break down in extreme weather?
  • Is it safe for walkers to walk to school?

We recognize that a decision to close schools or host a remote learning day from home might require alternative plans for child care and other work arrangements. Be assured that when that decision is made — in collaboration with area superintendents also considering factors and circumstances like those in District 96 — we inform our families immediately. Decisions to close due to extreme cold are more likely to come the evening before if — and only if — National Weather Service and NOAA information is sufficient to support closing for the safety of our students, faculty, and staff.

Note, however, it is unlikely that a decision to close due to expected snowfall will be announced before the morning of the day in question. When the snow falls is as important as how much snow is expected to fall. If roads can be plowed during the night and bus drivers can report, then school will likely be in session.  Additionally, we have had forecasts of snow that never fell.  For these reasons, announcing a closing for snow the day before is unlikely. If we choose to close, our current practice is to communicate that decision as close to 5:00 a.m. as possible.

District 96 uses the contact information from our student database to send the message of a school closing or emergency to parents/guardians and staff.  If you receive E-NEWS and Superintendent Messages, you can be confident that you will automatically be sent messages/receive calls related to closings or emergencies, as well. Such messages are typically sent in phone, text, and email formats to ensure you receive them as soon as possible; be sure you are signed up or subscribed to receive text notifications. Also, a banner with a notification of closing is added to the district and school website homepages and will also appear on our smartphone app.

If your contact information changes, please be sure to notify the administrative assistant at your student’s school to update our database with your new email/phone number. 

In the event of inclement weather, the Superintendent of Schools will implement one of the following scenarios:

School Cancelled

All school buildings will be closed with no learning activities provided. In this scenario, students will make up the inclement weather day at the end of the school year, using one of our emergency days. This option would be utilized if the weather emergency has impacted power or internet access that affects some or all of our households.  This option may also be used if all of the necessary preparations are not in place at the time of the emergency event. If we choose to close our schools, our current practice is to communicate that decision as close to 5 a.m. that day as possible.


Planned Early Dismissal

On days during which snow is planned to take place during the school day and will significantly impact the evening commute, we may choose to announce an early dismissal.  This decision will not be made on the day of an event and only prior to the event so parents can make arrangements.  On those dates, we will follow the early release dismissal schedule that we already use. 


Slightly Early Busing Times

There may be extremely rare occasions where it will be necessary to dismiss school a little early. The purpose of this would be to give our buses more time in between routes to safely transport students home.  On these days, middle schools will dismiss first as close to the end of the typical school day as possible and after-school activities will be cancelled. Elementary school students will be released at their regular dismissal time.   Students who walk will not be released before the end of the regular school day, should this occur.


Remote Learning from Home

All school buildings will be closed; however, students and staff will complete the school day from home. These days will count as student attendance days and will not be added to the calendar at the end of the school year.  We are committed to announcing remote learning days the day before they are to occur.  In the past, we have had closures for extremely cold temperatures and occasionally that has happened multiple days in a row.  That serves as an example of when we might access remote learning.  Should we have a day of remote learning from home, our Teaching and Learning Team, as well as your child’s teachers, will communicate the specific schedule for the day and other necessary information.

Elementary Schools/Willow Grove Early Learning Center: Early childhood through fifth-grade students will use their school-issued iPad to log in through Clever to attend morning meetings (8:30 a.m.) and receive a specific schedule from their classroom teacher for work completion.

Middle Schools: Students will use their school-issued iPad to attend sessions with their team of teachers (starting at 8:30 a.m.) and receive information regarding work completion.  They will have access to their assignments through Schoology.  They can expect to have an assignment or work experience for each class.


If you have questions, please contact our media & communications specialist at 847.459.4260, ext. 8022.


Kathryn E. Sheridan, District 96 Superintendent of Schools