Emergency Closings & Delays

Process for Determining When to Close or Delay School Due to Weather

school bus and lights covered in snow

When winter weather arrives, the BH-BL School District has established criteria for deciding whether to close school for the day, cancel afternoon and evening activities, or dismiss students earlier than normal. The superintendent of schools ultimately is responsible for all such decisions. Remember, even if school is not closed, it is a parent’s right to keep their child home if he or she believes it is not safe for their child to travel to and from school. The district will regard this action as a legal absence.

When determining whether to delay or close school, the decision-making process begins at 4:30 a.m. and includes assessing weather conditions and forecasts and communicating with our four towns to find out if the roads (main and back) will be cleared and safe for travel. Remember, travel conditions can vary widely across our 50-square-mile district. Additionally, we work with BH-BL Buildings & Grounds staff to determine if school parking lots and driveways can be cleared for buses and cars.

Emergency Modification of School Schedule

While it is very important to us to open school every day, our first priority, of course, is student safety. There are times when it is too unpredictable to make a full closing decision in the early morning hours. Road conditions can change rapidly as temperatures change and plows clear and salt or sand roadways. If it appears that students cannot be transported safely to school at the usual time in the morning, but that the weather will allow a safe afternoon dismissal, the district may institute a two-hour delay to the start of the school day. When there is a two-hour delay, the bus will arrive two hours later than the usual pickup time. There may be times when a 2-hour delay needs to turn into a full snow day. In those situations, the decision to close school will be made by 7 a.m. Below is the sequence of announcements should the district have to operate on a 2-hour delay or amend the 2-hour delay status.

By 5:30 a.m. we will let residents know if school is

  • running on a 2-hour delay (final),
  • running on a 2-hour delay (decision on closing by 7 a.m.),
  • school is closed, or
  • remote school day.*

*The New York State Department of Education (NYSED) allows districts to pivot to remote instruction on days that would otherwise be closed due to inclement weather or other emergency situations. Please note: The first several snow days will be traditional snow days with no remote instruction. If it appears that we are getting close to using all of our snow days, we will let parents and students know ahead of time that we are considering the remote option. If this occurs, BH-BL students (and) parents will receive school day procedures and schedules from their principal through email.

Closing School for the Entire Day

If it appears that students cannot be transported safely to school in the morning or home at the end of the school day, BH-BL schools will be closed. If either possibility is a concern, the superintendent, transportation department staff and Buildings & Grounds Department will gather information regarding road conditions current weather conditions, forecasted developments, and the ability of municipal agencies to keep up with the weather. The district will make every attempt to announce snow days by 5:30 a.m.

Canceling Afternoon and Evening Activities

If students cannot be transported to and from afternoon and/or evening activities safely, the events will be canceled. The transportation department staff, a school principal, and/or athletic director will discuss weather-related concerns with the superintendent by 12:30 p.m. to cancel after-school activities and by 2 p.m. to cancel evening activities.

Early Dismissal During Inclement Weather

The district’s philosophy is to avoid early dismissal. We do not want parents rushing home, often on less-than-ideal roadways, or children being let off the bus at houses where an adult is not home. We believe keeping children at school is the best way to keep them safe when bad weather occurs during the school day. However, in the event that this is necessary, notification will be made as early in the day as possible. All parents, especially working parents, should instruct their children where to go if schools are dismissed unexpectedly during the day.

Wind Chills and Cold Temperatures

Severe climate conditions where temperatures and wind chill dip into certain extreme ranges can cause concerns for the safety of children. The National Weather Service will begin to issue media advisories when wind chills of -15 degrees are predicted and warnings when wind chills of -25 degrees are predicted. No one should be outside with unprotected skin with wind-chill factors in the range of -40 degrees When wind chills of -25 degrees are predicted, the district may be placed on a cold weather alert. When persistent wind chills of -25 degrees or below are predicted, we are likely to delay or close school, consistent with guidance from the New York Statewide School Health Services Center.

Ways To Stay Informed

If there are any changes in school operation hours, the district uses several information sources to inform parents and community members:

  • SchoolMessenger–an e-mail, SMS text, and phone call system. (Please note: We will NOT use the phone call option on snow days. We will use SMS texting and email.)
  • BH-BL website, www.bhbl.org.
  • Local television and radio stations, and newspaper websites.

Please Note: We will not be posting school closing or delays on social media. The timeliness of our announcements is key. We will instead rely upon direct communications (above).

Important notes about closing and delay announcements:

  • You can sign up for SchoolMessenger email, text, and phone message at https://www.bhbl.org/community-corner/parent-resources/school-messenger/
  • It is best to rely on more than one source of information when it comes to weather-related announcements. This is particularly true in situations that involve power outages, which can affect the district’s ability to send electronic notifications.
  • School closures and delays will be announced through official district communications tools, listed above.
  • School is open on its usual schedule unless otherwise announced. The district does not make announcements when school is open on its usual schedule, as this could cause confusion on mornings when there is inclement weather.