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School Delays & Closures - Decision Making

Dear Parents, Guardians and Staff:
The decision to close schools is a difficult one.  Winter weather can be unpredictable, specifically when the timing nears our opening and dismissal times.
While yesterday seemed more like a drill, I believe today we got it right.  Students and staff arrived home safely and for this I am grateful.
During our November 15th debriefs, the consensus amongst parents and staff alike was:  "call an early dismissal; err on the side of caution; we will get the children home."
This, YOU got right!  The majority of our emergency cards have been successfully updated with current contact information.  Our school leaders and staff diligently worked together to inform our parents and get our students home.  Our transportation departments collaborated to safely execute their routes and our parents rearranged their schedules, coordinated with family and friends, and were able to make arrangements for the students.
Yesterday, we had a modified early dismissal that released students just over an hour early.  We had one (1) student return to the district.
Today, we had a modified early dismissal closer to programmed early dismissal times.  We had (7) students that required extended care.
Thank you to our school leaders and staff.  Thank you to our parents for your support and understanding.
I know this is a challenge - for some greater than others.  We will continue to work toward making the announcements earlier, as we understand this is an area of focus.  I appreciate your feedback and your letters and hope to make this improvement.  
School leaders have also documented their early dismissal practices over the past two days, as we look to use the most effective procedures in the upcoming Security Plan revisions.  Over the next few weeks, we will send out a survey in order to include your feedback in the process.
Thank you for your continued support and care as together we work to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
Eveny de Mendez
Acting Superintendent of Schools
West Orange School District
179 Eagle Rock Avenue
West Orange, NJ  07052