Tue07292014

Last updateWed, 19 Nov 2014 8pm

   2014 39.95 HSD w VIDor PH-Banner2-500-x-125

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Banner printing Comm Dental

County schools have new process on late arrivals, closings, etc.

SchoolMessenger sign-up required for alerts

For parents and staff to receive email and/or text alerts about King George school closures, late arrivals and early closings, they must create an account on a third party website called SchoolMessenger.


Volunteers and others who want that news are currently restricted from signing up for email alerts, but the division website provides instructions on signing up for text alerts to go to your mobile phone. Those instructions and the instructions and link to the account sign-up and activation can be accessed from the division website: www.kgcs.k12.va.us.  From there ‘click’ on Emergency Closings/SchoolMessenger, found in the left-side column.
The division website notes that the SchoolMessenger service began when the division changed its method of communicating with parents and others about emergency notifications by consolidating all its notifications to one system beginning May 17.
That’s when it says King George County Schools contracted with SchoolMessenger, a provider of notification services for parental outreach, emergency broadcasts, student attendance alerts and other communications for education.
The website says that the new system “will extend the district’s existing community outreach efforts and emergency preparedness procedures, as well as inform parents of upcoming school events such as statewide testing and parent meetings. As a comprehensive communication tool, SchoolMessenger will contribute to the district’s involvement initiatives, allowing the district to engage the broader educational community about a wide range of topics affecting students’ academic success.”
But it also says that SchoolMessenger will replace all current school communication methods used in the past. “Schoolsout.com and KGAlert will no longer be used to disseminate information concerning the school division after July 1, 2012.”
It adds that “Principals will still be accessible for live visits and will continue to communicate via current methods including paper-based memoranda.”
Division Superintendent Rob Benson was asked about the current apparent inability for community members to sign up for email alerts about school closings and pertinent safety information.
Benson told The Journal he would look into that glitch, and maybe see about utilizing the KGAlert system in the meantime.

INCLEMENT WEATHER NOTIFICATIONS
Benson had approved a letter to be sent home via students only last week on Oct. 23 to address school closures and the like due to road conditions complicated by snowfall.
The letter had been tweaked during its development, which included collaboration with Tim Smith, Director of Parks & Recreation to make certain that families had clear direction as far as who decides what and when as far as cancellations. It was coincidental that it happened to come out just prior to the approach of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath.
The letter is addressed to the families of King George students. The following information is contained in the letter:  
When inclement weather causes or threatens to cause hazardous road conditions, schools may open late, close early, or close for the entire day. Road and weather conditions in all areas of our county are monitored through the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Sherriff’s Office and regional weather services. The safety of students, families, and staff is the priority when weather prompts adjustments or closure of our schools.
Delayed opening or daily closing decisions will be made by 5:00 a.m. The decision will be communicated through local television and media outlets, the district website, and our “School Messenger” system. If it becomes necessary to close schools early, information will be announced as soon as possible in the same way. In these situations, the announcement will typically state “All King George County Public Schools will close (one or two hours) early today.”
In the event that schools are closed early, all King George County School District student and athletic activities and all King George Parks and Recreation after school child care programs will be canceled. By 4:00 p.m. the day of the early closing, King George Parks and Recreation will announce their decision to maintain, postpone or cancel their evening activities. Please monitor any alterations to Parks and Recreation Activities through their website or through your Parks and Recreation team coach or activity supervisor.
A delayed opening of school is sometimes used to allow commuter traffic to clear and hazardous road conditions to improve. In some instances a delayed opening allows additional time to make a better decision as far as an outright closing if conditions are threatening or worsen in the early morning hours (4:00 to 6:00 a.m.).
The following is a short list of reminders and suggestions as we prepare for the possibility of weather related adjustments to the school day:
In the case of a delayed opening, please bring students to school accordingly. For example, if schools are opening two hours late and normal drop-off time for your student is 7:15 a.m. (middle school), please deliver your student at 9:15 a.m.
In the case of a delayed opening of school, there will be no King George Parks and Recreation Department before school activities.
Since some parents/guardians and childcare providers may be unaware of early closings, it is advisable to designate another person to receive your preschool or elementary aged child. If needed, please consider providing the name(s) and telephone number(s) for your emergency designee to the school. As always, students under the age of nine who do not have a parent waiver on file will be returned to school unless designated individuals are at the bus stop to meet them.
Please have a family plan so your student(s) know what to do if they arrive home before anyone is there to meet them. Middle and high school students also need plans to ensure their safety.
If schools are open, but you as parent or legal guardian consider local roads and sidewalks unsafe for travel, you have the option of not sending your child to school. In this case students will receive an excused absence and will not be penalized academically, though they are expected to make up all assignments and/or tests.
Benson also notes:  “I understand that alterations to the school day due to weather are cheered by youngsters and feared by families. School closings can be stressful when work demands, child care, and last minute arrangements need to be accommodated. I am hopeful this communication prompts you to develop or review your family “what if’ plan to lessen or avoid any early morning or afternoon scrambling on your part due to a delayed start, early release or closing of school. As always, if we can be of any assistance to you, please feel free to contact your child’s school. Thank you in advance for your preparation.

Phyllis Cook

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