An initial announcement that West Hartford Public Schools would be delayed two hours was followed by the announcement that all West Hartford Public Schools would close on Monday, Jan. 12.
By Ronni Newton
There was some confusion among parents and students, as well as teachers, on Monday morning as initial notifications from media sources reported a two-hour delayed opening followed just minutes later with notification that West Hartford Public Schools would be closed for the day due to inclement weather.
“We initially planned a two-hour delay, but then it looked like it would be pushing the start time into the icy time. Ice is much worse than snow,” West Hartford Public Schools Superintendent Tom Moore said Monday.
Conard Principal Julio Duarte said that midterm exams, scheduled to begin on Thursday, Jan. 15, will be impacted. “Exams that were scheduled to begin on Thursday will begin on Friday,” Duarte said. All midterm exams will be pushed ahead one day. Duarte and Hall Principal Dan Zittoun made that decision late Monday morning, and a letter will be emailed to all high school parents and those middle school parents impacted by the date change.
Moore said that an updated weather forecast came in just a few minutes after the initial decision had been made, and since word had just gone out to the television stations and other media outlets, there was some confusion. By the time a recorded announcement was sent out at approximately 6 a.m. by telephone to the phone number on file for each student, the decision had been made to close.
Moore, and Assistant Superintendent Andy Morrow, discussed the decision to close with other area superintendents, as they do beginning at 3 a.m. on many winter mornings. “It was snowing in Simsbury today at 4 a.m.,” Moore said. It appeared that the snow, followed by ice, would head straight over the mountain to West Hartford. “I hate the notion that if you decide to cancel you have to root for ice,” he said.
Although Moore said that he had received calls questioning the decision, he said that he needs to “err on the side of caution.”
“Ice is a different animal. The buses can get through some snow, but if there’s a coating of ice, it’s a problem,” said Moore.
“It’s days like this that make me wish I was a superintendent in Hawaii,” Moore said.
Many parents have asked if it is possible to get a text rather than a phone call, and Moore said that’s something that will be addressed with West Hartford’s notification service. The automatic phone call is currently made to the phone number on file with the district, which in most cases is a landline rather than a cellphone. There is neither an opt-out nor a text option at this time, he said.
Many parents and students like to get text notifications, and Moore said that the information received from television station’s text alert systems is reliable. The stations are notified by phone directly from the superintendent’s office, he said.
For more information about the West Hartford Public School’s emergency notification procedures, click here.
The West Hartford Public School’s notification system is separate from the town’s emergency notification system, which is run by Everbridge. Those are the automated calls that all residents receive from Mayor Scott Slifka about weather and other emergencies that affect the entire town. To register for the Everbridge notifications, visit the Town of West Hartford website and click on “Community Advisory Notifications.”
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