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Originally published: 2012-11-19 19:58:15
Last modified: 2012-11-19 19:58:15

From the Superintendent’s Desk: Inclement weather policies

David Burleson

Our community is one of the most beautiful in the world; however, our unique location and winter weather provide us with many challenges. As we face the winter challenges, we realize that there is no way predict how the weather will impact our schools. When considering closings, delays or early dismissals, our goal is to make decisions that are best for all students and staff. Procedures and policy are in place to dictate decisions based on the paramount safety of our schools and community.  

When inclement weather approaches, school personnel remain in continuous contact with local law enforcement and North Carolina Highway Patrol who monitor weather conditions. 

The decision to close or delay school is made by school officials between 5 and 5:30 a.m. Local media are notified of alternate schedules, school cancellation, early dismissal or delay and any other pertinent information. If these media sources are not announcing information concerning Avery County Schools, then the schools operate on a normal schedule. 

When the decision is made to have school on a two-hour delay, ACS Alert Now communications system will offer specific instructions for students and staff. Do not depend on local TV stations for two-hour delay information. Please remember that on two-hour delays, bus routes will begin as early as 7:30 a.m.  

In the case of inclement or severe weather, homes enrolled in the Alert Now communication system will be notified. (To enroll in Alert Now, please contact your local school.) Again, local radio and TV will be enlisted to assist in announcing information concerning delay, closing or early dismissal as well as posted on

Early dismissal

When school is dismissed early due to inclement conditions or other emergency situations, all 10-month employees are to remain at school until students are adequately cared for or until school is dismissed by the superintendent without the use of leave or dock in pay. Principals will closely monitor conditions at each school and make any other decisions based on what is safe for staff and students. All 12-month employees are expected to remain for their regular working day unless dismissed by the superintendent. If 12-month employees decide to leave earlier than their regular workday, appropriate leave policy must be followed. 

Delay start

When school is delayed due to inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, all 10-month employees are expected to arrive at school at their earliest, safest time. Under no circumstances should children have to remain outside on cold and/or snowy mornings. Twelve-month employees are expected to arrive at the normal appointed time.

If students are not attending school due to weather conditions, we will make one of three calls:

• Optional teacher workday: Ten-month employees have the option to report to work, take a vacation day (annual leave), have a full day’s deduction if they do not have annual leave or make-up the absence according to state and local personnel policy guidelines. 

• Closed for students and staff: Ten-month instructional staff will have a forced vacation day (annual leave) or full day’s deduction. The student make-up days will be rescheduled and announced following school board approval. Instructional personnel will have the option to make-up the day, at an agreed upon time without the use of leave or dock in pay. Twelve-month employees will report to work, take annual leave or a full day’s deduction.

• Closed for everyone: The third option would be to declare the school system closed for all staff and students. In this case, all employees would have a forced vacation day (annual leave) or full day’s deduction with the option to make-up the day at an agreed upon time. 

Option one is used for most days impacted by inclement weather, reserving options two and three for situations where the facilities are damaged or when it would be completely impractical to open the schools.

If you have specific questions, please direct those to your child’s principal or to me.

We ask for your patience, support and prayers as we make these very difficult decisions. 

Never hesitate to let us know about your concerns or give suggestions.

— David BurlesonACS Superintendent