Welcome to January in Texas, where the temperature here in San Marcos is 76 degrees. Yes, there is no place like Texas if you don’t like the cold! But we Texans also know that the weather here can change on a dime. We can throw on our shorts one day and pull out our heavy coats the next. So, even as we are enjoying the sunshine today, we want to be prepared for the possibility of a bad weather day that could dictate a school closure, a delayed school start, or an early dismissal at some point this semester.
Part of our preparation for bad weather contingencies is making our parents aware of the procedures we follow when making the decision to delay or to cancel classes due to severe weather. In Texas, a bad weather threat usually involves icy roads, but it could also mean flash flooding or even snow that might endanger our families and staff who commute to campus.
Any time the potential for bad weather exists, our administrators will begin to carefully monitor the weather conditions. Often this happens in the evening as we anticipate a weather threat the next morning. Our staff will be in touch with county and other local officials during the night and early morning hours to assess the seriousness of a weather threat. This often involves a 3 a.m. conference call between county emergency management staff, representatives of local school districts, the City of San Marcos and others who pool together their information and advice.
Based on our staff’s analysis of all available weather information, the Academy President will make a final determination to initiate a school delay, school closure or early dismissal. We do our best to make this decision as early as possible in order to communicate that decision to our staff and parents as soon as we possibly can. Sometimes, however, weather situations are unfolding minute by minute, making the decision process a difficult one.
Parents of day students should know that above all, we want you and your students to be safe. If a weather threat near your home would make it difficult for you to drive to our campus, please stay home! Our families live in all parts of Hays County, and the conditions where one family lives might be quite different from the conditions on our campus. So, even if the decision to hold classes as usual is made, we trust our parents to make the right call about their own safety and the safety of their students, and we will excuse a student who is late to school or cannot make it to campus due to a weather-related issue.
If we do determine that our school schedule needs to be adjusted for a weather threat, we will immediately share this information in several ways. First, a notation will be made on the school’s online calendar. We will also update the front page of our website (although there are times when weather can affect our internet connectivity, so be aware this could delay a website posting). In addition, an email will be sent to parents through the school’s RenWeb system with information about our schedule change, and we will also send a text message through our Parent Alert system to parent and student cell phone numbers (note that we will not text international phone numbers). The texts will come from a five-digit number (22383) and will begin with “parent_alert.” Parents, this is a good time to go in to your ParentsWeb profile to ensure that we have a good cell phone contact and one (or two) correct email addresses. Of course, we will also update our social media sites for parents and students who follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
After our parents, students and staff have been informed through the methods described above, we will pass on any delay or closure information to area television stations to include on their local weather broadcasts. Parents might also want to check the Hays County Emergency Information website, www.haysinformed.com for helpful updates.
Mark Twain is credited with saying, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.” No doubt, he would have said the same about Texas! Our goal at SMA is to enjoy the good days while we can and be well prepared for the bad days that will inevitably come.
–By Shelley Henry, Director of Admissions and Communications at SMA