MLWGS will be on a 2-hour delayed opening on Wednesday, January 17, 2024. Stayed tuned for updates.

Director’s Message: How do we determine whether to delay or close school due to inclement weather

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As we begin to enter the time of year when weather events can impact school closures and delays, I thought it would be a good time to share the process that goes into how we make decisions regarding delays and closures to our school.

I would love to say that I simply shake my Magic 8 Ball and see what it says, but it is a little more complicated!  First, we must remember that we serve a very large geographic footprint and that many weather events may impact one side of the region while leaving the other side untouched.  Second, each of our 14 districts provides transportation to our school and will not transport students on a schedule different than their own.  In other words, if a district is closed, they aren’t going to operate the buses to MLWGS. 

The decision process begins with a look at the weather forecasts.  If we see the potential of a storm, we make sure that we have all the tools to make the decision as well as to communicate it at home.  I communicate with several district superintendents and regional directors to get a feel for what they plan to do.  As a general rule, we will follow the lead of our four biggest districts: Richmond, Chesterfield, Henrico, and Hanover.  If three of these districts close or delay, we will follow suit.  These districts account for about 85% of our student population.  In the event of a split between these districts, we generally will follow Richmond as we are physically located in the city. 

Once we see what the “Big Four” are doing, we will make our decision.  We try very hard to make the call before 9:00 PM, but sometimes we don’t have all the information that we need until the following morning. When the decision is made, we will send out an email blast through our system, post it on our website, and notify the local TV channels. 

In the event that we are open, but your local district is closed, you are advised to stay home.  Your absence will be excused, and you can make up any missed work.  If you decide to come to school anyway, that is fine, but I want to make sure that safety comes first as you make that decision.  Don’t drive on unsafe roads because you are worried about missing school. Your district made the decision to close for a reason.

I hope that this sheds some light on what goes on behind the curtain as we make school closure decisions.  While academic time is critically important, the safety of our students, faculty and staff, and community partners always comes first.  Please feel free to email me with any questions, but please do not email me when we are in the process of make the decision to open or close.  It gets a little wild at times!

Have a great day,

Dr. Robert Lowerre, Director