SMSD News: All about snow days in the SMSD

Any time a winter storm moves in during the school year, it prompts a lot of questions. One of the most common questions is “Will the Shawnee Mission School District (SMSD) have a snow day?”

This is often a complicated question to answer, particularly in a large school system like Shawnee Mission. Recent advances, including near-universal access to technology, along with the experiences of schools with remote learning during the pandemic, also complicate the picture of how schools will respond to news of imminent inclement weather.

This week the SMSD shared inclement weather procedures to help answer questions our community members have about snow days.

The Shawnee Mission School District Inclement Weather Procedures 2021-2022 outlines three scenarios that are possible for students and staff. Click here to view the SMSD Inclement Weather Procedures 2021-2022.

Plan A and B outline school closure plans. Plan C outlines procedures for remote teaching and learning, along with meal service plans. The plans also explain what school closures and remote learning days will mean for families, students, and for staff members.

While the Weather Procedures answers many Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), there are some that remain. Here are some answers to additional Snow Day FAQs in our community:

How can I find out about closure announcements?

Knowing inclement weather days are of great interest, the SMSD shares inclement weather announcements broadly across the community.

Announcements are shared directly with family members and staff via direct e-mail, a phone call, and text for those who have opted to receive them. Interested community members can also find out about any cancellations through the following resources:

The district does not announce when schools are open, so if no announcement has been made, schools are open.

How can remote learning days be allowed on snow days, but not throughout the whole year?

The Kansas legislature passed a law last year, severely limiting the ability of Kansas school districts to teach students remotely. The law allows remote learning to only be used for a total of 40 total hours during the school year. This will have the effect of limiting the use of remote learning to very narrow circumstances, such as inclement weather days.

How does the district decide whether to close school or not? How will the district decide which plan will be used?

Decisions to close during the school year are always challenging and are made on a case-by-case basis. The decision to follow Plan A, B, or C will also be dependent on a number of different factors. Some of the factors that must be considered include temperature, wind speed, anticipated precipitation, timing of anticipated precipitation, type of precipitation (rain, sleet, hail or snow), road conditions, staffing levels, and a host of other factors. With each decision.7, SMSD leaders want to be sure all students and staff can arrive at school safely and return home safely each day.

School closure decisions have a significant impact on students and families across our community. These are not decisions that are made lightly. Keeping students safe and learning in-person continues to be a priority for SMSD leaders, no matter what the weather forecast.