Explanation For School Closures

An email from Dr. Palmer, Superintendent of Weston Schools:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dear Families of Weston Students,

These days are extremely frustrating as we attempt to balance the safety concerns facing our community with the educational needs of our children. Never before in my entire career have I experienced such a disruptive pattern of violent storms. Plowing snow takes a day or two from a fierce blizzard, but these sustained power outages with downed trees create another layer of complexity that paralyzes communities for extended periods of time.

In response to common questions posed at this time, I have included this very brief Q & A below. Additional information may be found by clicking on the Superintendent’s Blog on the main page of our website or using this direct link at http://www.westonk12-ct.org/page.cfm?p=4264. We welcome your other questions for the Blog which may be submitted to sblog@westonk12-ct.org.

Why are we not back in school if we are told roads are open?
Our town roads are passable for autos, but not safe for buses at this time. There remain dozens of roads for which our buses cannot navigate.

Do you need to wait for all roads to open for buses?
No, but we do need have a critical mass of roads open for safe bus travel. In those areas where accessibility of buses would still be an issue, we would try to address with smaller vehicles and vans to transport students. We have a limited number of smaller vehicles in our fleet; therefore, we need to reach a tipping point with the roads that the vast majority must be able to handle bus traffic. Additionally, the safety of bus stops needs to be inspected to ensure our students can wait on the roads without encountering hazardous conditions. A road that is ready for a student at a bus stop is very different from a road that can let a car pass.

What are you doing to help get the roads open?
We are working hand-in-hand with the Town each day to identify problem areas so the Town Public Works Department may address road issues in a prioritized manner to get us back to school as soon as possible.

Why did you open the schools for movies, etc.?
The facilities of the District are Town resources. All buildings have come back on line with heat and electricity. By opening our doors for Wi-Fi access, movie watching, etc., we have tried to provide some relief to those who remain in the community without common resources in their homes during these challenging times.

Where and when is the Wi-Fi?
Besides the emergency shelter at the Weston Middle School, the entire high school has wireless Wi-Fi access and the public access code has been posted in the school lobby and library. We have also opened up guest accounts for residents to log on to the computers in the high school library and to access printing capabilities. The high school library hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily, while access to the lobby Wi-Fi is until the ending of the last movie each night, approximately 9:00 p.m. There is seating available in the lobby for those who come after the library is closed.

Will we have school on Thursday?
The District is in constant communication with Town officials regarding the status of power restoration and road clearing. At this time, schools are closed through Wednesday, but we remain hopeful that Thursday may be a viable option to return. Again, degree of restoration of power in the town and the safety of bus stops/routes will govern any final decision.

Why don’t you call off school for Thursday and Friday now like many other communities?
If we believed there was no opportunity to return to school this week, we would make that decision today and notify families. However, given the anticipated work on both the roads and power restoration of the next 24 hours, it is prudent to gather this information before cancelling school further. If the district needs to cancel school for Thursday, it will post that information by noon on Wednesday.

These are unprecedented times, not only for our community, but most of the state. We will continue to work in partnership with Town leaders to reopen our schools as soon as possible. If there are other ways of support that the District may offer to Westonites in these difficult times, please let us know.

Colleen Palmer

Colleen A. Palmer, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools
Weston Public Schools
24 School Road
Weston, CT 06883

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