Welcome to a snowy start to 2017! This week, the Saturday Six thought it would be interesting to share six things that happen behind the scenes on wintry mornings when weather conditions make a KCS schedule change a possibility. A lot goes into that final decision, always made with student and staff safety in mind!
- The KCS inclement weather procedures actually start days before a potential schedule change. During the winter months, KCS staff continually monitors long-term weather forecasts to be on the lookout for potential weather issues. In most occasions, staff will be anticipating potential issues up to 5-7 days in advance.
- The day before any potential schedule change due to weather, KCS staff, including the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent – Administration, Chief Student Services Officer, and Transportation Director will communicate about the current forecast. If conditions warrant, a decision regarding a schedule change for the next day may be made the evening before. If not, communication will continue throughout the evening, including consultation with local meteorologists, sources such as the National Weather Service in Morristown, and the City of Kingsport Public Works department.
- The day starts very early when a schedule change is being considered. A review of current road and weather conditions starts before 4 a.m. Once again, multiple weather sources are consulted to determine the most accurate forecasts, and city road crews are keeping an eye on roads throughout Kingsport. In addition, the KCS team is also on the roads by 4 a.m., checking out conditions as well. Getting that first-hand look in our neighborhoods and community is a vital step in making sure the best and safest decision is made.
- Around 5 a.m., KCS staff will again communicate to review road conditions and monitor current radar and weather forecasts. At this time, administration works to make a final decision, based on a combination of the best available information at that time.
- If at all possible, staff works to make a final decision regarding any potential schedule change between 5 and 5:30 a.m. This is necessary for a variety of reasons… KCS transportation, school nutrition, and custodial staff are beginning the process of reporting to work in this timeframe. Bus transportation begins around 6 a.m., and by that time, school nutrition staff is already beginning the process of preparing breakfasts and custodial staff is working hard to prep schools across KCS. If a change is to be made to the schedule, it is important that these folks are aware.
- Additionally, families and students certainly need to know of any schedule change as soon as possible. If a change is to be made, the KCS communications staff begins to do its work immediately, posting the information to KCS social media, contacting local TV and radio stations, broadcasting the change on WCSK, 90.3 FM, posting the information on the district website at http://www.k12k.com, and sending out a phone call, email, and text message. The goal is for all communication processes to be complete by 6 a.m., so that the entire Kingsport community is aware of any changes in a timely manner.
Any schedule change affects the entire Kingsport community, and it’s certainly not taken lightly. However, it is sometime necessary due to important safety concerns. Decisions are made given the very best information possible at the time, unfortunately without the benefit of hindsight… experience tells us that forecasts and conditions often change quickly during the winter here in northeast Tennessee. However, we are fortunate to have highly qualified weather experts, a fantastic City Public Works staff, and a world-class KCS custodial staff that support the safety of Kingsport City Schools students and staff.
Have a question about the KCS inclement weather processes? Leave a question in the comment section, and we’ll do our best to answer it here!