Early Release & Emergency Days

  • School Bus SnowThere may be times when inclement weather causes DPS to close our schools, delay start times, or dismiss early. In the event of one of these weather-related schedule changes, we will make every effort to communicate our decision in a timely manner so that our families, staff, and students can prepare. Below are the details of the notification systems and procedures used when making decisions regarding inclement weather or schedule changes.

    Making the Decision to Close, Delay, or Release Early

    We appreciate the cooperation and understanding of all our families and staff during any weather-related cancellations, delays, or early release events. While we try our best to avoid disrupting regular school schedules as it may inconvenience some parents, staff, and students, the decision to close schools during cold or hot temperatures is made when there is a clear indication that weather conditions could endanger the safety of children and staff. We know many of our students rely on bus transportation and waiting on buses or walking to school during frigid or hot temperatures compromises student safety.

    Decision-Making Guidelines for Change in School Schedule:

    1. Evaluate current and forecasted temperatures and/or humidity.
    2. Evaluate road and traffic conditions within the district.
    3. Verify that:
      • Buses are able to start and the bus lot has been cleared of any snow/ice
      • Buses can maintain operation under conditions
      • Adequate number of bus drivers report to work
      • District personnel can clear (and keep clear) drives, parking lots, and walkways
    4. Evaluate wind chill/heat index chart (as shared on ISBE website)
    5. Outreach to City of Decatur regarding plow schedule
    6. Contact Decatur Public Transit to determine the plan for city buses used by high school students for transportation
    7. Superintendent or designee consults with surrounding district superintendents
    8. Consider tiered bus schedule
    9. Consider impact of children being dismissed from school early, including consideration of siblings of latch-key families

    We understand making a decision the day before closing school is much easier for our parents so they can make arrangements for childcare; however, it is not always practical for cold temperature-related closures. It is difficult to base decisions on forecasts because we still never know when extreme winter weather is going to hit our area. We encourage parents/guardians to have an emergency backup plan or identify an individual who will serve as an emergency contact should school or after-school programs be canceled.

    Notification of the decision to close or delay schools, or to release early, will be communicated through the District's standard communication mediums, including:

    • Facebook/Twitter
    • DPS Website
    • Channel 22
    • Local media partners
    • Parent/Staff Notification System (automated voicemail, email, text) — please make sure your contact information is up-to-date in Skyward. 

    E-Learning in Lieu of Emergency Days

    On Tuesday, August 29, 2023, the Decatur Public Schools Board of Education renewed the District's e-Learning plan for three school years: 2023-24, 2024-25, and 2025-26. Essentially, on any day that would be called a snow day, the District could instead shift to e-Learning for that day and will then not have to make up the snow day at the end of the school year. Per Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) guidelines, as with previous emergency days, only five (5) of these days can be used during a school year; any emergency days beyond that will simply result in a canceled school day.

    Click here to view the e-Learning Plan. While e-learning is an option for DPS to utilize during the 2023-24 school year in lieu of emergency days, the decision to do an e-learning day or a snow day will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Families and staff will be given ample notification in which to prepare for e-learning days, but all student and staff devices should be charged daily.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    How would the students get their iPads to use on an e-Learning day?

    We will make every effort to send students home with their iPads on days that we anticipate there could be inclement weather the following day.

    What happens if ice knocks out electricity or the internet?

    If there are widespread power and/or internet outages, we would utilize a regular emergency day rather than an e-Learning day. That emergency day would then have to be made up at the end of the school year, as they are under current procedures.

    Is this just for snow days?

    No, e-Learning days could be used in lieu of emergency days for any emergency, including snow days, heat days, etc.