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A Winter Update Message from Superintendent Heid

Dear Parents and Guardians,

As we begin November and head into the winter season, I would like to provide some updates and reminders.

Durham Bus Tracker App:

The Durham Bus Tracker App is a useful tool as the weather turns cold and we encounter difficult road conditions. The app is intended to provide “real-time” information regarding your child’s bus location. The app is available in both English and Spanish. If you have not used the app, I encourage you to download it for the winter season.

If you encounter an issue with the bus tracking application please contact Durham School Services at support@durhamschoolservices.com.

You may also contact Mr. Anthony McGinn, Director for Public Relations and Communications, with any questions or concerns regarding the Durham Bus Tracker app.

Weather Procedures for D300:

The winter season creates the possibility of weather related school closures, late starts, or early dismissals. As we approach winter break, I wanted to provide a reminder of our District procedures and information for how you can stay informed of possible closures, delayed starts, or early dismissals.

School Closure: Weather related events might trigger the closure of schools. The decision to close schools is based upon a review of several weather forecasts and information regarding local road conditions. A closure is called as a means to protect all of our students, staff, and parents. The decision to close school is based upon the following factors:

  • Hazardous Road Conditions – Our local municipalities do an excellent job ensuring our local roads are cleared and salted following a storm. During my time in District 300, I have witnessed firsthand the dedication of these individuals. However, they cannot control the duration or intensity for each weather event (please note: District 300 is large in geographic size and is composed of both suburban and rural/agricultural areas. This is one of the many things I love about our District. And, while one part of the District may seem to have clear roads, another can still have impassable roads. The open terrain and the lack of snowdrift fencing often creates significant drift and icing hazards that force us to close schools).
  • Extremely Low/Hazardous Temperatures: Almost 86% of District 300 students utilize our bus transportation service. As such, we must recognize the potential hazards of exposing students to hazardous conditions. Forecast temperatures between -20 and -30 degrees creates a significant risk of hypothermia, frostbite, and asthma. The District may opt to close schools if the projected temperatures are forecasted to remain at these low levels throughout the day.
  • Delayed Start:  Late night or early morning storms may prevent us from being able to open schools immediately. The District stays in contact with village managers and other regional staff to stay informed of problem areas and to be informed of timelines for roads, lots, and sidewalks to be cleared. If the District finds that road conditions and/or temperatures will improve quickly, then we may implement a delayed start. In these instances, the District will push back the start time for each school by two hours. The use of a delayed start will also be considered when low/hazardous temperatures are affecting our area but are projected to be limited in duration.
  • Early Dismissal: (Used on very rare occasions as the District would likely close schools if there were a severe weather event projected for mid-day or early afternoon). The District makes every effort to track and monitor storms or impending weather.  However, forecasts can be wrong and storms can increase in speed, intensity, and duration. In these instances, the District may utilize an early dismissal when incoming weather is expected to create hazardous conditions for students, staff, and parents during regular dismissal times. The decision to implement an early dismissal would follow communication to each student’s parent/guardian via RCS (phone message and email) and postings to our website and social media channels. The District will also work in collaboration with local media agencies to supply timely communication (please note: staff will remain on site until such time as all students have been safely reunited with their family members). 
  • When will I be notified of a school closure, delayed start or early release?

As a parent, I am aware of the impact that these decisions have on your work schedule and the ability to secure supervision for your child(ren). I will make every effort to provide clear and regular communication as we encounter potential school closures, delayed starts, and early releases. If a decision to close schools (or call a delayed start) cannot be made by 11:00 p.m. the evening before it would occur, then I will notify you of this. You will not be left wondering of the status. You will only receive an update at 5:00 a.m. the following morning if we are implementing a closure or delayed start (reminder: please also look to our social media pages, website, and local media broadcasts for updates).

I hope that this message helps clarify our process. And please take the time to review your contact information in Infinite Campus to ensure that both your phone number and email address is accurate.

Winter Driving Reminders:

Winter weather increases the need for road safety.  Seasonal dangers, including snow and ice on roads, and reduced visibility from winter precipitation, make it important for drivers to prepare and focus to prevent accidents. In order to prevent any serious accidents and/or injuries, please take a few moments to discuss winter driving with your child.  We have provided the following safety tips that you can discuss to help avoid trouble on the road.

Tips for driving in winter weather:

  • Stay home, if possible. The best advice when the winter weather turns nasty is to stay home. This isn’t always possible, but remains the safest option to avoid potentially dangerous situations on the road.
  • Leave early and drive safely. Allow additional time to help prevent the urge to speed. Ice and snow make roads slippery and speed may lead to a loss of traction and possible spin out. Brake gently when driving on slippery surfaces like ice or snow. Finally, please remember that bridges and overpasses will ice over first and should be areas where drivers are cautious with speed and following distance. 
  • Slow down: A little more caution makes a lot of difference when roads are slick.  Slowing down by 5 mph or more and driving on low-speed roads will help limit your potential for damage in a collision.  Keeping more car lengths between vehicles provides you more time for any sudden stop.  Driving in snow, sleet, and ice can be very treacherous even for the experienced driver.  And, even if you maintain control of your car, there is no guarantee that everyone else will. Remember, in the snow, the tires are always just barely grabbing the road.  Accelerate slowly and gently, turn slowly and gently, and brake slowly and gently.  To do this, you have to anticipate turns and stops. Rapid movements can lead to skids and loss of control.
  • Keep windshields and lights clear. Visibility is critically important when driving in the winter. That’s because there’s less daylight hours and weather conditions often make it more difficult to see cars, people, and other obstacles in front, alongside and behind the car. Make sure to clear off all windows, as well as headlights, taillights, and parking lamps. Not only do you need to see what’s in front of you, but others need to see your vehicle as well. Keeping an ice scraper in the vehicle will make clearing windshields easier. Also make sure the windshield wiper fluid reservoir is full.
  • Lift your windshield wiper arms or get a windshield screen. Lifting your wipers will prevent them from freezing to the windshield. This will help prevent damage to the blades and also help prevent a possible burned out wiper motor. In addition, fill your windshield washer fluid reservoir with one that will not freeze. A windshield screen will also help prevent freezing and ice accumulation, saving you time and ensuring a clean windshield. 
  • Remove snow from the hood and roof of your vehicle. While it may take a few minutes longer, the snow left on the roof could quickly fall forward, obscuring visibility. It can also create hazards for those driving behind you.
  • Keep tires at proper inflation. Nothing jeopardizes stopping and navigating icy, slushy, and slippery roads more than poorly inflated tires. Make sure all tires are inflated to the pressure recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. Find this information in the owner’s manual or on a sticker on the driver’s door.
  • Always have at least a half tank of gas. To avoid getting stranded by running out of gas, safety experts recommend always having at least a half tank of gas in the car. If the trip will be lengthy, make sure you have a full tank of gas before starting out.
  • Know your vehicle’s safety features: It is critically important to understand how your safety features work.  The best example is anti-lock brakes (ABS).  Where tapping brakes works for controlling skids in traditional braking, pumping ABS can be dangerous.  Road safety experts and law enforcement professionals know that anti-lock brakes and other features are no substitute for safe stopping distances and reasonable speeds - and that goes for other high-tech features like traction control as well.  Even some more traditional features of a vehicle can be confusing - for example, experts warn against using cruise control on slick roads.
  • Stock a winter emergency kit. Being prepared for the unexpected means taking precautions to have needed supplies in case of an emergency, like being stranded in the snow or having car trouble. Items to have on hand include: blankets, coats, hats, flashlights, emergency flares, water, and a small bag of kitty litter/sand. You should also keep an ice scraper with a brush in your glove box in case it snows or sleets. Also check that you have wiper fluid/de-icer in your car.
  • Practice: If your child is nervous about driving in winter conditions, consider spending some time practicing.  Go to an empty parking lot and try sending the car into a slight skid on purpose.  Slam on the brakes, then practice turning into the skid and see what happens - and practice until you're comfortable regaining control of the car.  Doing this in a large, empty parking lot (preferably without light poles) allows you the luxury of skidding without ending up in a ditch.
  • Keep your cell phone charged. In case of an emergency, you’ll need to be able to call for help.

District 300 families, while the winter season provides many potential hazards, careful planning and cautious decision-making can greatly reduce potential risks.

I wish all of you a safe and happy winter season.

Sincerely,

Fred Heid

Superintendent 

District Office
Phone: 847-551-8300
Fax: 847-551-8413
Community Unit School District 300

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