Get urgent news: Weather, disasters, school emergencies
How we make the call
Nov. 20, 2015
During a winter weather event, the decisions we make to delay or close schools are based on how safe it is to ride a bus, drive, bike or walk to school.
How we make a decision:
We rely on local and national weather services to alert us to an incoming storm and evaluate conditions in consultation with the City of Portland and other school districts. When we anticipate an approaching storm, we have transportation staff out evaluating road conditions as early as 4 a.m.
We try to make decisions that reflect the varying topography and weather conditions across our community. But you know the condition in your local neighborhood better than anyone else. If you feel it’s unsafe to drive, walk or bike to school, please keep your student home.
We also take into account that weather conditions can change – sometimes getting better. We try to balance a conservative, safety-first approach with our responsibility for having students in school learning.
We provide notice about weather-related closures as far in advance as possible – the day before, if we can, or else early in the morning.
Types of weather calls:
Two-hour late opening – Schools begin – and buses pick up students - two hours later than usual. There is no half-day kindergarten or morning childcare.
Buses on snow routes – Students report to their snow route bus stop in the morning and are dropped off at the same stop in the afternoon.
Schools and offices closed – Students stay home; activities are cancelled.
Early dismissal – K-8 students are not released until parent contact is made.
Each year in March, we evaluate how many instructional days were lost due to weather/other events and determine if makeup days in June will be added.
We recognize that weather-related school decisions can cause anxiety and inconvenience. We appreciate your patience and flexibility and want you to know that our first goal, as always, is to keep children safe.
Chief Operating Officer
PPS communication pathways
- Text messages: Sign up for School Messenger by texting YES to 68453
- Alert pod on www.pps.net and all school websites
- Twitter: @PPSConnect
- Phone: Auto-dialer calls in supported languages
Look up your snow bus route and schedule. Note that pick-up times may vary slightly from the usual bus schedule.
What PPS does
When weather conditions make it hard to get to school safely, PPS chooses from:
- Buses on snow routes
- Two-hour late start
- Buses on snow routes and two-hour late start
- Schools closed
- Schools & offices closed
- School dismissed early
How PPS decides
Our priority is safety. District officials consult meteorologists, transportation officials and PPS staff who test road conditions. Sometimes conditions change or vary by area of the city.
Read more: PPS Student Transportation
Disasters: Earthquake preparedness
What PPS does
In the event of an earthquake, students are taught to:
- Duck, cover and hold on.
- Evacuate when instructed. Attendance is taken.
- Return to building, if safe, or gather in designated indoor or outdoor space.
If damage is minor, bus and other transportation would proceed as normal. If damage is severe, buses would not run and families must pick up children at school.
How you find out
If communication systems remain functional, PPS would inform families about how students will get home. Otherwise, families are expected to get students from school as soon as possible.
What PPS does
In consultation with police, schools use the following:
Lockout: A threat outside a school(s). Staff brings students inside, locks all entrances and proceeds with classes until threat is addressed.
Lockdown: A threat inside a school. Staff locks all classroom doors and students take shelter in classrooms as necessary.
Lockdown Team Response: Medical emergency or other such incident where staff needs to assist while keeping students out of the halls. Classroom doors are locked and classes proceed.
Evacuation: Students follow designated paths; attendance is taken.
How you find out
Communication varies by situation:
- Brief incident: School emails families or backpacks a message home at end of day.
- Parent action required: Text message and/or auto dialer call as soon as possible if incident impacts school start or dismissal or if students need to be picked up.
- Extended incident: Text message and/or auto dialer call even if no action is required.
What families can do
- Emergency contacts: Student registration information in your school office:
- Make sure emergency contacts are up to date.
- List people likely to be near school who can pick up your child if you cannot.
- Make a plan for picking up your child in the event of an emergency, including a severe earthquake.
- Incidents are often resolved quickly with no actual threat to student safety. Please do not come to school amid an emergency unless instructed to do so.
- PPS recognizes the burden when school is delayed or cancelled due to weather or other incidents while working to make the safest call.