Inclement Weather FAQ
What guides the decision to alter the school schedule in cases of inclement weather?
All decisions are based on the safety of our students and staff. Therefore, the regular schedule for the school system may be modified as a result of inclement weather. Inclement weather involves snow, ice, extremely cold conditions, and flooding. Decisions to open school late, to close school early, or not to have school on a given day are based on conditions at the schools and/or road conditions. Additionally, families can notify us of dangerous roads in their area and VDOT will help treat these areas. Families can call Pupil Transportation (647-3704) to report these areas of the county.
How does HCPS monitor the weather and road conditions?
We use Accuweather's snow warning service and also call the National Weather Service. When inclement weather is forecast, transportation staff will monitor conditions beginning at 4:00 a.m. In-person checks of the north-west side of the district, the southern side of the district, and areas of higher elevation are conducted. The Henry County Sheriff's Office, Public Safety Office, Virginia State Police, and Virginia Department of Transportation are very helpful and offer invaluable assistance when weather conditions give cause for concern.
Does HCPS look at what other divisions are doing?
We do look at what others decide, but our county's terrain is very unique so we do not base our decision to alter the school schedule on the decisions made by leaders in other districts.
How does HCPS decide whether to delay school, dismiss early, or close school?
Schools operate from 7:45-3:30, but inclement weather can begin, end, or change at any time. Based on predicted weather conditions, current weather conditions, and the input from our monitoring partners, HCPS officials make a determination that is in the best interest of students and staff.
When extremely cold temperatures and wind chills are forecast, it is often necessary to delay the start of school to ensure that students do not experience an extended wait as we work to ensure our buses are able to begin their routes.
Does HCPS announce a delayed opening while still determining whether to close school?
A two hour delay is sometimes necessary to help determine the need to close school (for the safety of those assessing road conditions), but is rarely used in this manner.
What plans are in place in case there is a sudden change in the weather while students are in school?
Our buses can be back at schools in approximately 1-2 hours to transport students if it is determined that an early dismissal is necessary. Schools remain open and staffed until verification has been received from the Transportation Supervisor that all buses serving the school have completed their run and safely transported all students home. When schools must be closed early, the means of notification will be by email, School Messenger, the HCPS website or social media forums (Facebook, Instagram or Twitter), or public announcement through the radio and television stations as listed.
How do inclement weather announcements impact athletics/activities?
In accordance with Henry County Public Schools Board Policy EBCD-R, when schools are closed early due to hazardous conditions or anticipated hazardous conditions, all after-school activities are to be postponed. During school holidays and when schools are closed all day due to hazardous conditions, the Division Superintendent or his designee will determine if any activity may take place which involves students and/or involves the use of school facilities.
How will I know when the school schedule has been altered?
Employees and families may obtain weather-related announcements by checking the HCPS website or social media forums, signing up for email or School Messenger alerts, or by tuning in to the public announcements on the following local media outlets:
Local Radio Stations
WZBB (Oak Level) 99.9
WDBJ 7 (Roanoke)
WSLS 10 (Roanoke)
WSET 13 (Lynchburg)
Star News 18 (Martinsville)
BTW 21 (Collinsville)
What do the codes that often accompany inclement weather announcements mean?
Code 1: Eleven/Twelve Month Staff reports one hour late.
Code 2: Eleven/Twelve Month Staff reports two hours late.
Code 3: Superintendent and Supervisor of Facilities report. Essential personnel may be contacted to report to school sites to prepare the facility to reopen as soon as it is practical.
How do you know that you made the right decision?
School administrators are in the difficult position of having to make the best possible decision using current conditions and predictions (forecasts). Using multiple sources of information, including first-hand observation, helps provide the information needed to make an informed decision. Every inclement weather decision made by HCPS officials is centered on the safety of our students and staff.
Are there a certain number of inclement weather days that you try to get each year?
HCPS develops a school calendar based on the Code of Virginia. Our goal is to be in school for 180 days of uninterrupted instruction.