Inclement Weather Procedures

The safety and well-being of students and staff is our top priority and the decision to close, delay or release school is no simple matter. Before deciding to modify the school day due to extreme weather conditions, the Superintendent consults with a variety of experts both inside and outside of the District. Our commitment is to keep students, families and staff safe, as well as keep the community informed of weather-related school closings, delays and cancellations.

The District must make one decision that is appropriate for more than 4,300 students. We recognize that this decision may not always fit with individual circumstances. Therefore, we support parents/guardians making the best decision for their family. Parents/guardians may choose to keep their children at home if they are concerned about their child’s safety due to weather conditions. In this event, they must notify the school and the absence will be recorded as excused.

Please note that we continually monitor the forecast from the National Weather Service (NWS) in order to make the best decision for students, staff and families in a timely manner. The District utilizes information from the NWS and local emergency management. The NWS’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) wind chill chart is utilized in the District’s decision making process. The NOAA wind chill chart can be found under Appendix A of this procedure.

Announcements of District weather-related decisions are communicated through local media outlets (television and radio) and multiple District communication platforms. Notification will be sent directly to families by phone and/or text through the District’s PowerSchool notification system and posted on the district website,  www.ottumwaschools.com.  To receive notifications through the District’s PowerSchool system, please ensure your contact information (email and phone) is accurate in the system. High school activity and athletic event decisions are communicated by the building administrator/designee. Community members can also receive notifications via the district app, available through the user’s smartphone.

Cold Day

Closing due to temperature or wind chill.

School may be cancelled if the forecast for 10 a.m. the following morning shows frostbite times of 30 minutes or less (see Appendix A). We try to make decisions regarding cancellation as soon as possible.  As our practice, when school is canceled, all activities, events, and practices are generally cancelled unless otherwise noted (please check www.ottumwaschools.com for the most current information).

Snow Day

Closing due to snow or hazardous driving conditions.

School will be cancelled if heavy snow and/or icy conditions make it exceedingly hazardous or impossible for school buses to travel their routes and/or for employees and students to report to school safely.  We try to make our decision by 5:30 a.m. the morning of a cancellation and notification made by 6 a.m.

Late Start

Delaying the start of school due to weather conditions that are expected to improve throughout the school day.

When a late start is deemed necessary, late start times may vary depending on the weather conditions. In the event of a late start on a regularly scheduled early dismissal day (Friday), the early dismissal will be cancelled and school will follow the regular dismissal time.

All morning activities and events before school on late start days will not take place.  

Early Dismissal

Releasing school early due to weather conditions that are expected to worsen throughout the school day.

When an early dismissal is deemed necessary:

  • Early dismissal times may vary depending on the weather conditions.

  • Children normally transported on buses will be returned by bus according to the early dismissal schedule unless other arrangements have been previously made and communicated to the child’s school.

  • When school is dismissed, all student practices and activities will be canceled for the day and postponed to another date if possible.  (please check www.ottumwaschools.com or your child’s school website for the most current information).

Same Day and Potentially Next Day Activity Cancellations

At times it is necessary to cancel after-school activities due to weather conditions that are expected to worsen throughout the day. In these cases, school is in session as normal with weather expected to worsen during the after school hours.   Decisions to cancel activities will be made as soon as possible on the day of the cancellation or on the day preceding the cancellation, including weekend activities.  

Cancellations include (but not limited to):

  • District-sponsored extracurricular activities (elementary, middle school, and high school)

  • Field trips

  • School events (elementary, middle school, and high school)

  • Meetings and activities in a school building or district facility hosted by an outside organization that involved student participation.

 Appendix A

NWS Windchill Chart