We know that the Hawthorn community has always understood the challenges of school-closing decisions and that at times we must err on the side of caution in order to be prepared for the worst. However, we have received many requests for clarification on the process for determining school closures due to weather-related “emergencies”.
There are several situations in which closing our schools is a quick and easy decision, such as: no heat, no power, no water, blizzards or road closures. The decision to close becomes more difficult when it must be made on “predicted weather conditions.” As you can imagine, we utilize many resources in order to make these decisions with the most accurate and up-to-date information. Continuous monitoring of weather reports from a variety of reliable sources, conference calls with our colleagues/superintendents in neighboring districts, and conversations with our transportation providers are all useful in determining whether we need to close our schools. Each situation is very different and the safety of our students is always the final measure used to make the decision to remain open or close our schools.
All public schools are required to make up days missed due to weather-related emergencies. Our public school calendars must include five emergency days each year in order to address just these kinds of situations. Traditionally we have added make-up days to the end of the school year in June. Hawthorn elected to change the calendar to include make up days during the second half of the school year. We feel that incorporating these make up days into the school year will help us avoid extending the school year too far into June. Days during the school year are also more academically valuable than days at the end of the year. Since we had a snow day on Nov. 26, a make up day will take place on Presidents’ Day, Feb. 18, 2019. School will be in session on that day. If the schools close again, the second make up day is on Casimir Pulaski Day on March 4, 2019.
We will continue to make the best decisions in a timely manner in order to help parents prepare for the school closing. In order for us to be able to provide you with information as quickly as possible, please be sure you have provided updated emergency contact information to your school. You also have the capability to change/update your contact information. You can also find these notices on our web page.
Notification of “snow days” and other emergency closings
When snow or other circumstances require our schools to close, Hawthorn will provide information in several ways…
- Hawthorn will activate our automated emergency notification system to send a recorded voice message to each student’s home telephone number, as provided during registration. Parents have the option of managing their emergency notifications by logging in to the PowerSchool Parent Portal to change telephone numbers, request text messaging, and request email messaging. For more information on the automated emergency notification system, visit http://www.hawthorn73.org/alerts
- We will post information on the front page of the District website (http://www.hawthorn73.org).
- Please “Like Us” on Facebook where we also alert parents to school closings.
- We will provide information to www.emergencyclosings.com.
- We will also join with other area schools in announcing cancellations on a number of radio and television stations. Radio stations include WMAQ AM 670, WGN AM 720, WBBM AM 780, WBBM FM 105.9 and WBLZ FM 103.5. Cancellation information will also be provided to WGN TV Channel 9 and WFLD Channel 32.
- You may also sign up to receive email notification of closings at www.emergencyclosings.com. However please note that previous experience shows that during particularly busy times, notifications from this organization may not be done in the timely manner you require.
School closings impact all activities using our buildings
Note that when Hawthorn closes school, all other activities that take place in our buildings on that day are also cancelled. Examples of activities that will also be cancelled include after-school sports, clubs, Park District activities, concerts, Scout gatherings and parent meetings.
Sometimes, changing weather requires Hawthorn to cancel after-school activities, only. That decision is generally made by 1:30 p.m. of the day in question, and is communicated via the District website. Once again, such an after-school cancellation will impact both Hawthorn and non-Hawthorn events that use our buildings, including sports, clubs, Park District activities, concerts, Scout gatherings and parent meetings.
Also note that the Hawthorn Afterschool Program on-site daycare generally stays open when all other after-school activities are cancelled. Please check directly with the child care provider for specific schedules, 847-996-6805.
A few more notes on school closings
- The decision to cancel school or after-school activities is taken very seriously and done after careful consideration. Hawthorn is in constant contact with surrounding school administrators, the bus company, our facilities team, and even local emergency responders in order to make the most informed decision possible. That said, weather patterns can shift substantially from meteorologists’ predictions. We urge parents to be proactive in monitoring the District website and other communications on days when the weather appears threatening so that you and your family can be properly informed.
- As a rule, Hawthorn will make every attempt to not dismiss school early, due to the age of our students and the difficulty in ensuring that a parent or care giver will be home if school is dismissed earlier than usual.
- Even if the schools are open, the final decision about a child’s attendance remains with the parent. A decision to close or open school cannot take into account every circumstance. We can best protect the safety and welfare of all students if parents take an active role in deciding what is best for their student with regard to attendance.
- Please keep in mind that any amount of snow or rain causes slower traffic. So even if the snowfall isn’t enough to cancel school, bus routes and traffic in general tend to take longer than usual.
- Finally, we encourage all neighbors to take a little extra time to shovel sidewalks and bus stops to help keep our students and all residents safer.