The Board of Education has authorized the Superintendent or his or her designee, in his or her discretion, to close the schools in the event of hazardous weather or another emergency which threatens the safety of students, School District employees, and/or school property.
“When, in the opinion of the superintendent, conditions exist which might prove hazardous to the safety and welfare of the students and teachers of this county, the superintendent shall have the authority to alter/close the schedule of the schools – or a school – until such hazardous conditions cease to exist.”
Often we are asked, “How did you make the decision to close or not to close schools today?” The process involves many staff members and local law enforcement agencies’. On mornings when inclement weather (snow, ice, rain, hurricanes, etc) is expected or is a possibility, the Walton County School District’s dispatch operations center opens.
At 5:30 a.m.:
At 3 a.m. the inclement weather procedures start.
- The Sheriff’s Office and Walton County Roads Department are contacted for updates on current road conditions and any particular areas of concern.
- The staff monitors weather forecasts through a variety of weather sites and contacts other school systems to determine their opening, closing or delay status.
- The three member school staff assessment team drives assigned areas throughout the county determining road conditions and hazards for bus drivers. They are on the road between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. checking road conditions, school driveways and parking lots. They communicate the road conditions via two way radio. The information is recorded and relayed to the superintendent.
- By 5:05 a.m. the school staff forms an initial recommendation to open, close or delay the opening of school and relays this recommendation to the superintendent.
- By 5:30 a.m. the superintendent makes the final decision regarding opening of schools.
Time Line At a Glance
The decision to close or delay opening of schools is sent to the local radio stations and local T.V. stations, which sends the announcement to all members television and radio stations in the Walton County area.
- The information is posted on the Walton County School District website, on the central office voice mail system at (770) 266-4520, and a direct call to all parents.
- Individual media outlets are also contacted regarding school closing status.
- If the decision is to delay the opening of school, the school assessment team continues to check the road conditions. The school staff continues to monitor weather forecast information and to check with other school systems on their final decision for opening schools.
On the day following an inclement weather day, parents and students have asked for information regarding whether school is operating on a regular schedule. The year Walton County School District will post on the website a statement that schools are operating on a regular schedule and a direct call will be made to all parents. As the news media will not announce that we are operating regularly, this is the only way we will be able to communicate this information.
3:00 a.m.: Walton County School District's weather operations center and school assessment teams begin evaluating weather conditions.
- 5:05 a.m.: Weather operations school staff makes a recommendation regarding closing or delaying school in conjunction with local law enforcement agencies.
- 5:30 a.m.: The superintendent makes the final decision regarding the opening of schools.
- 5:35 a.m.: All television, radio stations and local law enforcement in the Walton County area are notified of the decision.
- 5:35 a.m.: The decision is posted to www.waltoncountyschools.org, placed on the central office voice mail system at (770) 266-4520, and sent by direct call for notification to registered email and cell phone accounts.
- 7:15 a.m.: The deadline for changing a school delay to a school closing.
In the morning or afternoon if it is raining the students will be picked up or dropped off at their regular school bus stop. We encourage all parents to walk with their child to and from the school bus stop. There may be some conditions where the bus cannot travel because of dangerous conditions (i.e. roads washed out or trees/power lines down). Then the driver will contact dispatch and tell them of the conditions. Dispatch will notify the affected schools if any buses are running late. We recommend that students always dress according to weather conditions and are escorted to and from the assigned school bus stop.
Occasionally fog patches occur. Fog greatly increases the risk that motorists may collide with a stopped vehicle or with a student in the process of crossing a road to board the bus. Consequently, bus drivers have been instructed to use extreme caution and reduce their speed in fog patches where visibility is significantly reduced.
It is each parent’s responsibility to ensure that their child is safely aboard the school bus. Occasionally a road may become blocked and, as a result, the bus may be unable to service sections of a route. If this occurs, the bus driver will notify dispatch and dispatch will contact the schools. Parental work schedules in some families may require parents to be away from home before their child leaves for school in the morning and/or when their child arrives home in the afternoon. If this is the case in your family, please ensure that your child has access to your home or to an approved alternative home where he/she can to in the event of the bus being unable to service your section of the route.
The possibility of a mechanical breakdown of a school bus or special vehicle always exists. This is a particular concern during the winter. Please ensure that your child is dressed warmly enough to cope with the potential loss of heat due to a mechanical breakdown on the bus. If mechanical failure occurs, alternative transportation will be arranged as soon as possible. In this circumstance, however, the bus may be late picking up your child in the morning or returning him/her home in the afternoon. Again, in the event that parental work schedules require parents to be away from home before or after school, please ensure that your child has access to your home or an approved alternative home.
The Walton County School District strives to ensure the safe transportation of children. Ultimately, each parent has the right and legal obligation to protect their child. You may decide to keep your child at home at any time if you feel that it is too risky to have him/her transported by school bus to school.