Information on Winter Weather Decisions and Communications
As we head into the winter months, Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) has planned for the days when in-person instruction may not be possible. Our plan includes the notification process and the structure for learning in the event of winter weather conditions. Our goal is to support students’ learning by remaining engaged while also preserving any future days when schools may need to close. If we have sufficient calendar days we will consider designating the day as an actual “snow day” for all students and staff. Please know that the division will monitor any power outages and any other unforeseen circumstances prior to making a final decision.
However, families should also be prepared for the possibility that the first day of school closure due to winter weather could be virtual asynchronous learning, which allows students to learn the same material, but at different times and locations without live instruction. More information will be shared if schools need to close for more than one day. For more details about how students participate in asynchronous virtual learning at each school level, please visit our winter weather communications webpage.
Assessing Winter Weather Conditions
When winter weather — such as snow, ice or extreme cold temperatures — occurs, and buses cannot safely transport students to and from school, it may be necessary for ACPS to close school buildings and provide at-home virtual instruction under these circumstances. In addition, if conditions are too extreme for student walkers to make it to school safely, or too dangerous for staff to travel, the decision to provide at-home virtual instruction may also be made. The safety of our students and staff is our number one priority when considering school closures during a winter weather situation. We work in conjunction with the City of Alexandria emergency management staff to assess road and public sidewalk conditions and include school personnel in inspecting the conditions of bus travel routes, ACPS parking lots and bus lanes.
ACPS attempts to make school closure decisions the evening prior to a winter weather event, taking into consideration that families and staff need time to make proper arrangements. However, when there is a lot of uncertainty around a winter weather forecast, we will wait to get the latest morning forecast and road condition update from federal and state agencies, along with the City of Alexandria emergency management staff. When we are unable to make a decision the evening prior to the potential weather event, the superintendent will make the decision about whether to close school buildings and provide at-home virtual instruction for students by approximately 5 a.m. In either case, families and staff will receive regular updates via the ACPS website and ParentSquare.
Preparing for PreK-2 Instruction
Students in grades PreK-2 will not take home Chromebooks during winter weather events. K-2 students will bring home library books to read and receive choice board activities from their homeroom teacher for completion when schools are closed due to inclement weather conditions.
Preparing for At-Home Virtual Instruction (Grades 3-12)
As a general practice during the winter weather season, it is highly recommended that students in Grades 3-12 take home their computers/devices and instructional materials at the end of each school day. Elementary and secondary principals will give frequent reminders to students, staff and families. Asynchronous learning for our youngest learners may also include materials in addition to computers/devices. This will ensure that students have the necessary materials at home for virtual learning if schools must close due to winter weather conditions. The first day of virtual learning will be asynchronous online learning, which allows students to learn the same material, but at different times and locations without live instruction, as explained in our winter weather communications webpage. Families will receive an update about the virtual learning format for the days ahead if school is closed for in-person instruction for more than one day.
Communication with Families and Staff
In the case of a winter weather-related closing, families and staff will receive notification via email and ParentSquare. This information will remain posted until normal operations have resumed. Additionally, the ACPS website, hotline and social media channels will include an alert with the appropriate information and ACPS will share information about winter weather-related closings with local news outlets and community partners that provide after-school programming and/or child care. When ACPS schools are closed, families are encouraged to check directly with after-school and childcare providers as to the status of their operations since some providers offer their services at locations other than schools. We recommend that all ACPS staff and families download the ParentSquare app to get winter weather notifications and updates as soon as these are sent out by the school division.