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What TPS looks at when considering to cancel school due to weather

Posted at 5:38 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-06 13:11:24-05

TULSA, Okla. — For the Tulsa Public School District, the decision to cancel school due to severe weather is ultimately up to the Superintendent, Dr. Deborah Gist.

However, the district says a whole team works together to gather multiple condition data points to help her make the final call.

Teams start monitoring weather, road, wind, and ground conditions 36 hours before severe weather is projected to hit the Tulsa area.

Chief Operations Officer Jorge Robles is one of the people who helps manage the data for Superintendent Gist to review.

Robles says the process starts around 4:30 a.m. when the City of Tulsa's Director of Transportation and Police Chief start patrolling the roads.

"The safety and security of our students and teachers is our top concern," said Robles. “We are in constant contact with Tulsa area emergency management office with the City of Tulsa and adjacent districts."

When assessing conditions, the Operation teams looks at various factors that could be hazardous for students, their families, and bus drivers.

“When weather is dangerous we ground all buses,” said Robles. “We also have a large population of kids who walk to school so sometimes when we make this decision it might not be the precipitation or the road conditions that are bad but maybe the wind chill is dangerous for kids to be out there exposed to that kind of weather."

Robles says making recommendations to make that call can be tough because of how quickly Oklahoma weather can change, but the team pushes to help Superintendent Gist decided as quickly as it is safe to do so.

"We have a commitment to make a decision as early as possible because we know for our families time is of the essence," said Robles. "The latest that we would ever tell a family about a decision would be no later than 5:30am prior to the start of school."

The team looks for stability in the weather to make a recommendation.

"We could make a decision earlier if the weather models are stable and we know we can expect something that would put our families and kids in danger," said Robles.

Once Superintendent Gist makes a decision based off of the Operations Teams recommendation they have multiple systems to let families know.

"We talk to the news, we post on our website, we also have a school messenger system so it sends a text to our families, and we have a robo calls,” said Robles.

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