Olympia has a unique set of challenges when it comes to winter weather. Many factors go into making decisions regarding early outs and cancellations. Some of those factors include current and future temperatures; current and future winds; current and future road status; current and future visibility; current and future power outages; current and future weather patterns; current and future ability for buses to run; current and future condition of pathways in which students travel, and timing of when the event occurs. All of these things are considered for the safety of our students. Constant communication takes place daily during winter months with area School Superintendents, administrators, maintenance, transportation, and those that keep our roads and towns accessible for student travel. In addition to the factors above, two additional resources are considered when determining whether or not to cancel school: A) the National Weather Services Wind Chill Chart and B) the National Weather Services Alert System.
In regards to the Wind Chill Chart that is linked above, Olympia will generally operate school in the light blue territory if none of the other factors above cause a change in schedule. However, if the winds pick up or temperature drops beyond the light blue, Olympia will have a change in our student's daily schedule. In regards to the National Weather System alert system, Olympia pays very close attention to Advisories and Watches, but if all other factors do not cause a change in schedule, a Watch or Advisory will not dictate a change in student attendance schedule. If the National Weather Service issues a Warning due to extreme cold, a change in the student attendance schedule will occur.
Although area School Superintendents communicate regarding weather, each school district has unique challenges which may force them to alter a student attendance schedule when another district doesn't. Also, because of weather patterns and the size of our District, there are times when weather is different in one area of the District than the other. You will also see times where Bloomington District 87 or Normal Unit 5 (to our East) is out of school, when Morton, Pekin, and Tremont (to our West) is in school, or Lincoln to our South is in school.
If Olympia has a change in schedule, a ThrillShare phone call will be sent to parents between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. Parents will also receive an email and the information will be posted on the District webpage. The message needs to be sent at this time because drivers are starting to prepare their buses to pick students up for school. It also needs to occur this early so parents can make arrangements due to a change in schedule. If there is a major blizzard headed our way, then you might receive the message the night before. Otherwise, expect the morning notification.
I can assure you that there is a large amount of time and effort spent in driving roads, tracking weather, and discussing next steps, so that the best decision possible can be made. As a reminder if we do not have school due to extreme cold or poor road conditions, we have the option of taking an E-learning day (kids work/login from home) or the option to use a traditional snow day which would result in us needing to make up the day at the end of the year. If the conditions are forecasted to improve after our typical morning commute, we may also call a late start day. If we have a late start day - all schedules are one hour later. Elementary start time would be 8:45 a.m. and OHMS start time would be 9:25 a.m.
Thank you for your cooperation, understanding and patience when these decisions have to be made. Please let us know if you have any questions.