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Determining School Schedule Changes
Every school day, our buses travel a geographical area of nearly 750 square miles to transport our students to and from school. The decision to change the school schedule or cancel school due to inclement weather is based solely on student safety and takes into consideration:
- Road conditions for bus travel and student and staff drivers;
- Weather forecasts; and
- Assessments by law enforcement, the Virginia Department of Transportation, and other localities.
The school division considers four options when bad weather becomes a factor in the school schedule:
- Delay the opening of school by one hour;
- Delay the opening of school by two hours;
- Dismiss school early; or
- Cancel school for the day.
Albemarle County’s large size and mixture of rural and urban settings creates a unique challenge for the school division in determining school delays and closings. Our buses travel roads ranging from multi-lane highways to narrow dirt roads crossing mountains and one-lane bridges. Often roads in the urban ring around Charlottesville may be clear while those in more rural areas may be inaccessible for a longer period of time following a storm. When a significant portion of the county’s roads cannot be navigated safely by school buses, the decision is made to close school.
Early Morning Timeline
Each inclement weather event is unique. While we sometimes have enough information to make and communicate scheduling decisions in the evening, the timeline below represents a general guideline of the decision-making process when it occurs in the early morning.
2 to 4 a.m. Transportation Services Road Assessment Team drives assigned routes to evaluate conditions and hazards for school buses in six sections of the county. Other team members monitor weather forecasts and consult with other agencies and localities.
4:30 a.m. Road Assessment Team reports to Director of Transportation.
4:45 a.m. Director of Transportation submits recommendation to the Superintendent’s Office and final decision is made regarding school operations.
By 5 a.m. If decision is made to change the school schedule, communications process commences.
5:15 to 5:30 a.m. School Schedule Hotline updated: 434-296-5886
By 6 a.m. Local media notified. School division announces decision by voice, email and text to all subscribers of the Electronic School Notification System and posts announcement to school division website and social media sites.
Mid-Morning Reassessment Timeline
When we opt to close schools based on icy road conditions or a forecast, we may reserve the option to open school buildings for certain after-school activities, in the event that road conditions improve or the forecast does not come to fruition.
10 to 11:30 a.m. Transportation Services reevaluates road conditions and hazards throughout the county, monitors forecasts, and consults with other agencies and localities.
11:45 a.m. Director of Transportation submits recommendation to the Superintendent’s Office and final decision is made regarding after-school operations.
By 1 p.m. If approval is granted for schools to hold extracurricular activities, individual schools determine which of their activities will take place and announce decision by voice, email and text using the Electronic School Notification System.
Note: If you do not hear from your school by 1 p.m., all after-school activities remain canceled.