The following information is from Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin:
UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: Royal Oak Schools will be closed on Wednesday, Jan. 8. In the e-mail I sent earlier, I stated that I would continue to monitor conditions and I have been doing so.
Over the last few hours, the weather service has extended a wind-chill advisory to 9 a.m. While roads are cleared, as I drove them this evening I found icy conditions on many roads, including those bordering our schools. Because of the continued cold temperatures, black ice in the morning will be a real threat. In addition, due to errors in the media – specifically incorrect information being communicated by WDIV – there has been confusion regarding our status for tomorrow.
With temperatures predicted to be significantly higher on Thursday, it makes sense to wait one more day. While I know school closings inconvenience families, and that many of you may disagree with this decision, I have an obligation to err on the side of caution.
5 p.m.: Based upon current forecasts, I am anticipating that Royal Oak Schools will be open tomorrow, Wednesday, Jan. 8. Current media postings are for today, not tomorrow. As usual, I will continue to closely monitor both forecasts and actual conditions through the night. If conditions change and a cancellation decision is made, you will be notified by a telephone call from the district.
Assuming that school will be in session, we will be following our published calendar on which tomorrow begins with professional development for teachers and a late start for students. According to that calendar, student start times for tomorrow are as follows:
- Royal Oak High School: 8:55 a.m.
- Royal Oak Middle School: 9:00 a.m.
- All Elementary Schools: 9:25 a.m.
This schedule will provide “extra” time between the scheduled 7:00 a.m. expiration of all severe weather advisories and the start of the school day. Those measures normally in place at each level to accommodate students who need to arrive at normal school start times will be in place tomorrow. In addition, arrangements are in place at each school building to be sure that no students will be waiting outside tomorrow morning.
Please be sure to allow yourself extra time for travel tomorrow and use extra care on the roads and in parking lots. I encourage you to be sure that your children are dressed appropriately for cold weather before they leave your home. While elementary students will not to have outdoor recess when temperatures – actual or wind chill – are below fifteen degrees, suitable outdoor wear is still important for the trip to and from school.
Below, find answers to some additional questions that I suspect many of you may be asking:
Many districts will still be closed on Wednesday. Why is Royal Oak planning to open?
In speaking with leaders in other districts, there appear to be two reasons that districts in other communities may continue to be closed: 1) residential streets have not yet been cleared, and 2) on many rural roads blowing and drifting are preventing roads from being passable. I have confirmed with the City of Royal Oak that all streets have been plowed, and we do not have roads where blowing and drifting are creating issues. Buildings have been checked, and all systems needed to support student learning are up and running. Again, we will continue to monitor conditions, but at this time we are not anticipating having a need to close.
We’ve had four school cancellation days due to weather. Does this mean our calendar year will be extended?
According to state rules, “the first six (6) days (or equivalent hours) of scheduled pupil instruction that is not provided because of conditions not within the control of school authorities such as severe storms, fires, health conditions, and infrastructure issues, shall be counted towards meeting days and hours of instruction requirements.” We are allowed six days. Also, since Royal Oak operates according to a calendar that provides for more than the state minimum number of days and hours of instruction we may have additional leeway.
Will the fact that we may only have two possible school cancellation days left impact decision making moving forward?
No, the criteria for making decisions continues to be student safety. With reasonable care, will families be safe driving and will children who walk to school be able to do so safely? If safety demands that we close for more than two additional days this school year, there is a process for adding days to the calendar, most likely by extending student attendance days in June.