Inclement Weather and School Closings, Delays and Early Dismissals

Inclement Weather and School Closings, Delays, and Early Dismissals

The Board of School Commissioners has updated its policy on delayed openings and emergency closings of schools, which now includes details regarding essential personnel and liberal leave.

Summaries of the policy are provided here; for more detail, please review Policy EBCD and its accompanying administrative regulation.

How to Find Out If Schools and Offices Are Closed

  • Social media. Follow @BaltCitySchools on Twitter or "like" the district on Facebook for up-to-the-minute announcements. Closings and delayed openings are announced as close to 5 a.m. as possible, and early dismissals are announced immediately when the closing decision is made.
  • This district's main public website and school websites. Notifications of closings and delayed openings will be posted to the homepage as close to 5 a.m. as possible. Early dismissals are posted as soon as the decision to close schools is made.
  • Local television and radio stations. The local Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC stations, along with local radio stations, will broadcast school schedule changes as early as possible—usually beginning shortly after 5 a.m. and running till 10 a.m. for full-day closings and delayed openings and as quickly as possible for early dismissals.
  • The Baltimore Sun's school closing database.  District office staff ensure that the database is up to date as quickly as possible.

Essential Personnel

When the district closes or delays opening, employees who, due to the critical nature of their job functions, are considered directly responsible for the safe opening or closing of schools (including charter and contract schools) must report as scheduled. These include the following staff members:

  1. Principals
  2. Education building supervisors
  3. Building engineers
  4. Contract maintenance staff
  5. Custodial staff
  6. Grounds and repair shop personnel
  7. Transportation administrative staff
  8. School police
  9. Cabinet officers ("chiefs")
The CEO may also designate other employees as essential; for 2014-15, these staff members will be notified of their designation by December 1. All other personnel are considered non-essential and are not required to report to work when schools and offices are closed.

Liberal Leave

Given the circumstances of school and office closures, delays and early dismissals, essential and non-essential personnel may request liberal leave if liberal leave is in effect. Liberal leave is a situation in which employees may use accumulated vacation leave, personal leave, or compensatory time, without making the normal, advance-notice request of their supervisor. Department heads may grant time without pay to an employee who has no paid leave available for use.

How Decisions Are Made

  • Well before daybreak, staff from City Schools' Department of Facilities assesses road conditions, neighborhood sidewalks, school parking lots and school walkways, and also obtains input from the Baltimore City Department of Transportation and the Maryland Mass Transit Administration.
  • City Schools' CEO reviews the assessment and the most current weather forecasts available, and makes the decision whether to open schools on schedule, delay opening of schools for two hours or close schools. The CEO also determines whether conditions are sufficiently severe to warrant a closing or delayed opening of district offices that do not serve students directly (e.g., the district office building at 200 E. North Ave.).
  • Schools and offices remain open if, based on the condition assessments and weather forecasts, it is determined that students and staff can travel safely to their City Schools' destinations.

Special Notes about Delayed Openings and Early Dismissals

  • Schools may open two hours late when travel conditions at 5 a.m. are deemed to be potentially unsafe but are expected to improve.
  • When travel conditions are safe at 5 a.m. but are forecast to deteriorate, an initial announcement of a two-hour delayed opening may be made. In this case, depending on how the weather develops, there may be a subsequent decision to close schools. If a reassessment of travel, school-building, or weather conditions indicates that schools should remain closed for the day, an announcement (following the initial delay announcement) will be made by 7 a.m. (or as soon as practicable) announcing City Schools is now closed for the day. If you learn of a delayed opening, please check this and school websites, Twitter, Facebook or local media right before beginning your trip to school, to make sure there has been no further change in schedule.A delayed opening means that all morning half-day early learning programs are canceled and school breakfast will not be served.
  • When schools open as schedule and weather subsequently deteriorates (or, in summer, if the temperature exceeds 85 degrees by 9 a.m.), schools may close early—usually 2.5 hours ahead of the regularly scheduled dismissal time. Announcements are made via websites, Twitter and local media as soon as transportation can be arranged for students who travel on City Schools-provided buses.
  • When schools close early, afternoon early learning programs, extended-day and after-school programs and all interscholastic athletic events are canceled, but lunch is served in all schools.