Dear Lyle School District Families:
Having lived and worked throughout the Western United States, I am accustomed to inclement winter weather. The Mid-Columbia Gorge area is well-known for its difficult-to-predict weather, especially snow and freezing rain events, but we also need to conduct school as scheduled if we can safely do so. Frequent interruptions in our school schedule interfere with precious instructional time, and inconvenience parents who must work regardless.
Before deciding to close schools, we consult with our staff members, other school districts, and Klickitat County road crews who are out driving roads through the community beginning in the early hours of the morning.
Our school district covers 176 square miles with remote areas and steep terrain in places. While roads may be passable in Lyle/Dallesport, conditions may be very different just a few miles away. Deciding to delay or cancel school is a balancing act and many factors go into our decision. Here are a few:
* Can we ensure that buses will be able to navigate roads safely?
* Will students be safe waiting for buses, driving or walking to school?
* What are the predicted weather conditions later in the school day so we can also ensure students a safe return home?
* If we start school late (two-hour late start), will conditions be substantially improved?
* Will we have heat and lights in our schools?
This decision must be made by 5 a.m. in order to notify bus drivers and other staff, as well as parents. It’s not unknown for the weather to change dramatically after that decision has been made, but once we’ve decided to hold school, it’s important to stick to the decision instead of making a last-minute change that can leave children waiting for a bus or home alone.
Once we do make the decision to delay or close schools, we use multiple methods to get the word out to parents, students and staff. We use electronic means to notify news media outlets and we add a post to Facebook. If you “like” and “follow” our page, you should see these notices in your feed. You can always click over to our Facebook page (@lyleschools) to check.
Finally, we always send an automated message by phone, email and text message. This is why, if you have changes in phone numbers or email addresses during the school year, it’s important to notify our school office; this will help us get these messages to you dependably.
You should also know that technology isn’t always perfect and sometimes one system or another will have a glitch; that’s why we encourage you to check multiple sources for closure information. The old school method – tuning into local radio or television stations – is also still very dependable and is a good solution if your Internet is down.
If it is necessary to open schools late, breakfast will not be served and morning pre-school classes will be canceled, and any scheduled early release will be canceled providing students as much instructional time as possible that day.
If we prepare carefully and consider all the possibilities, we can ensure the safety and well-being of our students and staff during extreme weather conditions. Having served as a school administrator for 25 years – I have experienced some school closures that were “spot on” and I’ve experienced some that missed the mark. Please know I will do my best and provide me a little understanding if I miss the mark!
Know also that you are in charge of making the final decision on your child’s behalf. If you feel road conditions in your area are too dangerous to make the drive or put your child on the bus, you may keep your child home and the absence will be excused.
You can read more on our "Weather Related Closures" webpage, under "Our District."
Thank you for your partnership in this matter.
Andrew E. Kelly (Andy)