School closures, delays and early releases are decided as early in the morning or school day as possible.
The superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools closely monitors weather conditions when making a decision to close or delay school. Transportation crews begin driving in different areas of the school district at 3 a.m. when bad weather threatens.
With advice from the transportation crew and a meteorologist, the superintendent will make a decision regarding the operation of our schools. If possible, this decision will be made by 5 a.m. If a two-hour late start was declared the prior evening, we will attempt to make the decision by 7 a.m.
If it is decided to close schools, delay opening them or release students early, that information will be immediately shared via one or more of the above methods. This information will be posted only if there is a schedule change to report.
If it is decided to continue with a regular school day, then no information will be reported, and parents and staff will know that schools are operating on regular schedules.
If schools are closed or dismissed early, after-school and evening activities also will be canceled. Community use of schools will be canceled only if schools are closed.
In the event of an early release, families will be notified by phone call and/or email. Elementary students who ride the bus or walk will not be released until verbal confirmation about arrangements has been made with families.
The decision to close schools or delay opening them is not taken lightly. The safety of students and staff is a top priority.
Snow bus routes have been developed for some VPS schools. These alternate, safer routes will be used when ice and/or snow create dangerous driving conditions on certain roads.
When snow routes are announced, there will be no service to some bus stops. Alternate bus stops will be used.
Occasionally, our schools go into lockdown. Lockdowns are performed for the safety of students and staff members. Exterior doors are locked and no one is allowed to enter or leave a building for the duration of the lockdown.
Typically schools are put into lockdown by law enforcement as a precaution because of activity in the surrounding area that is unrelated to the school. Lockdowns often occur with little or no advance notice and are lifted within minutes. Most of the time, classes continue as usual. In these cases, the district often does not notify parents and guardians.
But parents and guardians also should be prepared for the possibility of a prolonged lockdown. We know that everyone wants the most immediate updates and information both during and after this kind of situation. However, driving to the school or calling the office during a lockdown can tie up staff resources and seriously impede the work of law enforcement and district security personnel.
School leaders, local law enforcement and school-safety experts have worked together to establish guidelines that balance safety with communication. During a lockdown, only limited information will be released, via one or more of the above communication methods, at the discretion of law enforcement and district administrators, for the safety of students, staff members and first responders. As incidents unfold, often it is difficult to verify details and facts may be delayed. News sources may speculate or report hearsay, but we will work to provide accurate information.