Emergency School Closings
Extreme Winter Weather
Emergency Closing - Extreme Winter Weather
District 33 schools occasionally close during extreme winter weather. Late-night snow or ice storms are the most likely reasons for schools closing. However, power outages or heating system failures may also be factors. When possible, the administration makes every attempt to determine and communicate school closings by 5:30 AM on the affected day.
The decision to close school is made after careful consideration of the best information available. Aside from carefully monitoring the weather forecast, the District 33 Administration will communicate with the following organizations when gathering information about potential or actual weather events:
- West Chicago Police Department
- Illinois Central Bus Company
- District 33 Facilities and Grounds Department
- Illinois Department of Transportation
- Communication with local/surrounding school districts
Typically, these conversations begin in the afternoon prior to the day of the expected extreme weather so that final decisions can be made and the public can be notified as soon as possible. These conversations will include consideration of many weather-related issues affecting the ability to safely transport students and staff to school on time, including:
- The ability of buses to start and/or stay running along the routes. In cold weather, the diesel fuel in buses can gel and cause engines to stop running while en route.
- The ability of buses to navigate the snowy streets
- If the time of day/evening of the snowfall provides insight into how quickly the streets can be cleared in relation to our key transportation timelines
- If staff can make it to work safely
- If the temperatures are dangerously low for those standing at bus stops
- If the temperatures are expected to stay dangerously low for an extended period of time (as opposed to a brief dip into the very low temps)
- If there are consistent, long-term, clear forecasts indicating a high degree of probability of a severe storm.
- Concerns about children who do not have adequate supervision at home and parents who will have difficulties making arrangements with work.
District 33 will make every attempt to post school closing information on this website. However, if there is no information currently posted, we ask that you check one or more of the other reliable resources listed on this page:
- Voice, email, and text messages will be made through Blackboard. Do not call your school. If your phone number/email address has changed since you registered your child for school, please give your new contact information to your school secretary, so our records can be updated.
- A message is placed on the District 33 Facebook page
- Notification will be made to the Emergency Closing Center (ECC).
- To conduct a status search on the ECC website, go to www.emergencyclosingcenter.com and enter the Facility Name: "West Chicago Dist 33" and the City: "West Chicago".
PLEASE NOTE: If the District decides NOT to close school, parents may choose to keep their child home if they feel there is a safety issue due to excessive cold or snow. Be sure to call your school to let them know your child is home.
Recess Guidelines: Please send your child to school dressed appropriately for cold weather. Students will be outside before school and at recess time if the temperature or wind chill is at 10 degrees or above. Please provide a doctor’s note to your school if your child has restrictions on being outside in cold weather.
Emergency Closing - Extreme Heat
Over the next year, we will be completing our air conditioning projects in all buildings.
The following schools have air conditioning throughout the building:
- Indian Knoll
- Leman Middle School
By the beginning of the 2024-2025 school year, the remaining schools are scheduled for the installation of air conditioning throughout the building. Currently, the tech labs, media centers, and gymnasiums in Gary, Pioneer, and Turner schools have air conditioning.
Here are the procedures we have in place related to excessive heat:
- The staff will use various strategies to provide students relief from the heat including rotating through areas that have air conditioning.
- We closely monitor the forecast and the local weather conditions to keep our students and staff safe and as comfortable as possible.
- We have digital temperature gauges in all of the classrooms that allow us to monitor classroom temperatures individually at the district level.
- Additional factors that are monitored include nighttime temperatures, humidity, and the location of classrooms within the buildings.
Excessive Heat Guidelines - Relief for Students and Staff
District Administration has worked with principals to set an established routine for relief during excessive heat days.
Relief in the classrooms/buildings:
- Turn off some or all classroom lights.
- Keep classroom fans on. We have purchased two additional fans for all classrooms.
- Create cooling stations in gyms and hallways. The district has purchased additional commercial-sized fans, and portable, commercial chillers for large areas.
- Lower window shades.
- Rotate classrooms to cooler areas of the school.
- Open classroom doors to allow greater air circulation.
- Keep students and staff well hydrated with continuous access to water. Students are permitted to have water bottles. Cups of water are to be provided if needed.
- Be alert to signs of heat stroke or heat exhaustion on the part of students AND staff, and take appropriate action if observed. Inform the nurse so that parents can be contacted to pick up their child.
If outside temperatures or heat index values exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit, principals and staff will implement the following procedures in addition to the procedures above:
- Limit or restrict physical exertion, recess, and PE activities.
- Limit or restrict time spent outside in the sun.
Emergency School Closing
In the event of extreme heat conditions, the district will call a “Heat Day”, close all school buildings and implement a remote learning schedule. This decision will be made as early as possible, typically by 9:00 PM the night before, to allow parents to plan for childcare. In addition to the heat factors, other safety considerations include:
- Impact on parent work schedules and child care.
- Putting some children at risk of exposure to the heat at home, or leaving them unsupervised.
To notify you of school closings:
- Voice, email, and text messages will be sent through Blackboard, the district mass notification system. Do not call your school. If your phone number/email address has changed since you registered your child for school, please give your new contact information to your school secretary so our records can be updated.
- A message will be posted on the District 33 website.
- A message is placed on District social media channels.
Phone/email messages will ONLY be made IF schools are CLOSED.
IMPORTANT NOTE TO PARENTS: If the District decides NOT to close the school, you may choose to keep your child home if you feel there is a safety issue due to excessive heat. Be sure to call your school to let them know that your child is home. This will be an excused absence.