Snow Closure Information
MISD Plan to Monitor Weather Conditions and School Impacts
When snow or inclement weather is in the forecast, we have a plan in place to assess and monitor weather and road conditions overnight and in the early morning hours. Our goal is to make information available to families about school closures or changes in school operations by 5:00am, but this can be delayed due to changing conditions.
Winter weather may bring road and driving conditions that cause changes in school operations such as delayed opening, early dismissal, or closure. The District takes into consideration the conditions on Mercer Island but also in surrounding areas where staff make their commute. The Superintendent, Director of Transportation, Director of Operations and Maintenance, and other administrators collaborate in the days leading up to a weather event to make sound and safe decisions during the weather event.
How do we decide to delay or cancel school?
- In spite of Doppler radar and other advances in weather forecasting, it is sometimes difficult to be exact about how inclement weather will impact road conditions on Mercer Island.
- The Superintendent monitors the weather overnight.
- At 3:30am Maintenance, Opertaions, and Tranportation (MOT) staff drive the roads on Mercer Island to begin assessing driving conditions. MOT is in regular contact and consultation with the Mercer Island Police Department and the City of Mercer Island Maintenance Department who are both monitoring road conditions on Mercer Island during inclement weather.
- Maintenance staff check for possible utility failures due to winter weather that may impact a school or neighborhood.
- The Superintendent makes all decisions to change school operating schedules based on the weather impact on schools and road and driving conditions.
- As a parent, you may decide to keep your child or children at home if you feel it’s not safe to make the trip to school. You are in the best position to decide about the conditions in your neighborhood and make the appropriate judgment on road conditions and driving capabilities.
- While we go to extensive measures to determine if roads on Mercer Island are safe for travel, it’s physically impossible for us to be on every street corner and side street at all times. We rely on you to be the final judge when it comes to the safety of your child.
Why doesn’t MISD just move to online or remote learning rather than canceling school?
Weather events often emerge without adequate time to prepare the students, staff, and families to flip to remote learning. Even when winter weather is in the forecast, the timing of the storm and impact in the region is impossible to accurately predict outside of 24 hours. Whereas high school or certain classes might be more easily shifted online, decisions must be made as an entire district. Here are some variables that impede rapid shifts to remote learning:
- Our younger students in elementary do not have assigned iPads they take home.
- Weather events often come with power outages.
- Some students will need to provide care for younger siblings during the day.
- OSPI has made it clear that to count an online day as one of the 180 school days, districts must meet a very high threshold as measured by student participation and synchronous instructional
- Staff live across the region and their access to internet/power may be limited or they may have family needs based on their home school district that making teaching difficult; and
- Sometimes students just want a snow day!
What does a school closure mean?
- All schools will be closed for that day only.
- No “out-of-district” transportation. Students attending “out-of-district” classes will not receive transportation, even if the hosting district is in session.
- All scheduled afterschool and evening activities, athletics and extra-curricular events are cancelled. This includes all practices, mandatory or volunteer, any contests, games, matches, meets, events, facility rentals, etc.
- The District Administration Building will be closed, unless otherwise announced.
What does a one or two-hour delay mean?
- The District may chose to delay school one or two hours and the decision is based on how quickly we can work to open schools.
- All schools will begin one or two hours later than normal.
- Bus pick-up schedules will also be one or two hours later than normal.
- Buses will use regularly scheduled stops unless the message specifies limited bus transportation.
- All BEFORE-SCHOOL ACTIVITIES, athletics and extracurricular events are canceled.
- Each individual school will determine if AFTER-SCHOOL activities, athletics, or extra-curricular activities will be canceled.
- School will dismiss at the normal time.
There will also be:
- NO out of district transportation.
- Other school events or activities could be cancelled.
How do we notify families of school closures or delay?
- School Messenger Email
- School Messenger Text. Families can opt-in to receive text notifications from our School Messenger system about school closures. To receive text notifications, first, we recommend you log-in to your Skyward account, select “Family Access”, and click on the ”Skylert” link to verify your cell phone number is listed correctly to receive text notifications. The instructions on this "Skylert" instruction sheet (PDF) show you how to to confirm your cell phone number. Once you have verified your number you can text “Y” to 67587 to receive text notifications from School Messenger, as these instructions show (PDF).
- FlashAlert email and mobile app push notifications. FlashAlert is the platform School Districts use to communicate school information to local TV and radio stations. You can sign up to receive a FlashAlert email. You can also download the FlashAlert mobile app on iOS or Android and enable the app to send you push notifications on school closures.
- District website posting
- District social media platforms | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram
- TV and radio stations provided school closure info via FlashAlert.
The most current information about school operations will always be posted on the Mercer Island School District website. Some radio and TV stations broadcast information regarding the operation of school during emergency conditions, including inclement weather.
What does limited bus transportation mean?
- All or part of some bus routes will operate on a modified route due to road conditions.
- Limited Bus Transportation routes may be used on the morning and afternoon bus runs.
- If the weather and road conditions improve, regular bus stops may be used in the afternoon.
- Families will be notified via School Messenger of the change prior to dismissal time.
What does no transportation mean?
Schools are open, classes are in session, but NO BUSES will be operating. This includes “in-district,” “out-of-district” and “Special Needs” buses.
Tips for Families
- Remember, some areas of Mercer Island experience more severe driving conditions than others.
- School closures and schedule changes are District wide, even if your neighborhood is not severely impacted.
- Changes to school operations apply for that day only.
- If no announcement is made by Mercer Island School District during inclement weather, schools and buses are operating normally.
- If conditions change rapidly or unexpectedly, we may need to make a quick decision to cancel school or send students home early.
- Continue to look for updated announcements throughout the day.The district may also cancel after school activities, athletics and extra-curricular events due to inclement weather on 2-hour late start days.
- Be sure your student is dressed in warm clothing (coat, gloves, hat, and boots).