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  • Jim Townsend

Weather Closes Portland Public School on Thursday, Ninth Closure This School Year

They are two words that most children love… and most parents dread. “Snow Day.”

For parents of children attending the Portland Public Schools, Thursday, January 31st, will be the ninth snow or weather closure day of the year. Thursday will actually be the fourth day this week alone.

In a voice message sent by Superintendent Will Heath to parents on Wednesday, he said, “It appears the temperatures will begin to rise tomorrow and hopefully the road cleanup will be successful, so that we can still have evening activities tomorrow night and school on Friday. Those calls will be made tomorrow or potentially Friday morning once we have the most up-to-date forecast. Thursday will be our ninth day of cancellation and we still have at least another month of potential cold and snow days. I feel that is important that we do all that we can to have school. With that said, we have developed the main roads only bus route for days that back roads are difficult for a transportation department, but the main roads are clear. As a district we have not activated this route in the recent past.”

Heath message went on to say, “Parents are allowed to drop off students at any of the listed locations. The key for the district is that 75% of our students are in attendance for us to count it as a day of instruction. I thank you all advance for working with us on these days and get the students in the school. Hopefully, we will not need to use the main roads only schedule, but we want to have it in place just in case.”

In an email to the Beacon regarding weather related closures, Heath said, "Weather cancellations are never easy. We do get a lot of comments, concerns, complaints when we do or do not cancel school and that is just from the calls and emails we get at the school and not everything you see on Facebook. There are times that superintendents feel that you simply can't win. So, we make the best decision we can with the available information at hand. It is important to remember that the district is responsible for school safety on what it controls. That is why decisions are often made based on the ability for us to run our bus routes. We do not control family decisions that allow students to drive to school. Parents should develop family plans for when we do have school and the weather conditions are not the best. This includes foggy, windy, rainy, snowy, icy, and any other mix that our weather in Michigan provides us. Road conditions on our routes are not specifically why we close or delay school as it is just one factor. We also need to look at our capabilities to run school safely during the day. We have numerous emergency procedures that would put students and staff outside for extended amounts of time. As a district we need to make sure we have the ability to maintain safe exits, walkways, parking lots, and emergency evacuation routes. Simply put, there are a lot of factors that go in to closing or delaying school."

The text below is from an email with the subject line of “Portland Main Roads Only Bus Schedule” that was sent to parents Wednesday afternoon.

Tomorrow will be our 9th day of cancellation this school year. The State allows for forgiveness of 6 of those days and the potential waiver for 3 more days of forgiveness. The district is currently working on plans for making up school days in case we do not get a waiver for days 7 through 9. With that said, we have another month of potential school cancellations. There are times, especially when things start to warm up, that our main roads are drivable but our back roads and turnarounds are not passable for our transportation department. In these cases we have developed a main roads only bus route. We do not like the inconvenience that this causes families and prefer not to use it. But, with our current conditions this year it may be needed. We ask that you review the Main Roads Only Schedule and develop a plan for getting your student(s) to school on those days.

Please see the attached document that lists the pick up spots and times for the Main Roads Only Schedule. I want to thank our community partners for allowing us to use these areas as pickup and drop off spot. It is greatly appreciated.

If we call a Main Roads Only day we will do so for either the morning, afternoon, or morning and afternoon. This will be communicated out as a notice to parents via SchoolMessenger and on our local news stations in the same manner as when we close school. Please look carefully at the route schedule for the drop off location nearest your home. Parents are allowed to drop off students at any of the listed locations. Only our in town routes 5, 6, and 7, will have regular stops (except Market St.), all other routes will utilize the listed pickup/drop off locations. Please contact our Transportation Department at (517) 647-2993 if you have any specific questions about this policy.

The key for the district is that 75% of our students are in attendance for us to count it as a day of instruction. If less than 75% of the students are in attendance, the day will not count and we will then be required to make up the day during the year or added at the end of the year. I thank you all in advance for working with us on these days and getting students into school. Hopefully we will not need to use the Main Roads only schedule, but we want to have it in place just in case.

An image of the schedule can be found below.

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