School Closing/Delay Information
How HCS makes weather-related decisions
During the course of a school year, it is always likely that our District will experience weather conditions that could warrant the need to delay the opening of schools, release schools earlier than scheduled or close schools altogether. Making a decision to alter the schedule or cancel school is a big decision that is not taken lightly, so we are taking this opportunity to share with you the precautions we take when we are faced with the possibility of inclement weather.
Who makes the decision to delay, release or close schools?
The decision to alter or cancel the school day is made by a team of departmental administrators, led by the Superintendent of Schools. A team approach helps us to evaluate the impact of weather on our transportation fleet, school facilities, food services, as well as school-day and after-school activities.
Individual schools do not make decisions to delay, release or close schools. However, we could experience weather emergencies that only impact the schools in one area of the county.
How does HCS monitor weather conditions?
The District team does not work alone. Before making a decision to change our schedule, we consult with local emergency preparedness officials and national and local weather services. We track data days in advance, when possible. We gather the best, most timely information available before making a decision to delay, release, or close our schools. We are mindful that a change in our schedule creates changes in schedules for all of our families and we are committed to providing as much notice as possible. To protect the safety or our students and employees, monitoring weather conditions is a part of our daily business.
How does HCS communicate a change in schedule?
When it is reasonably possible, we will provide notification of a schedule change the evening before to allow parents to have time to make arrangements. Sometimes we withhold making a decision until the early morning hours before a school day because weather conditions are predicted to change during the night. We will advise our parents and employees if decisions about a school day will not be made until early morning hours. We will provide notice by 6 a.m.
At a minimum, we are committed to a minimum two-hour notice for a change in schedule. While school schedules may change for inclement weather, the workday for most parents will often stay the same. We recognize that parents of younger children need time to arrange for supervision during “gap” times caused by schedule changes.
Inclement weather closing information will be communicated on the District website, HCS and local news stations, HCS App, email and telephone notification systems and Facebook and Twitter pages and Visit SCSCHOOLCLOSINGS.COM to stay up to date on South Carolina public school closures and delays.
Make sure your contact information is up-to-date at your child’s school and in PowerSchool. Our automated notification system sends messages to the last telephone numbers and last email addresses you provided to your school.
Monitoring the roadways
On days we provide a morning notice, we have employees on roadways monitoring to ensure the safe traveling conditions while most people are still asleep. We monitor miles of roadways (paved and unpaved), as over 400 school buses travel nearly 40,000 miles per day. Our transportation team knows the areas that tend to present challenges during inclement weather. After riding the bus routes before dawn, the team communicates to share what they saw and the information is used in making a decision.
If your child rides the bus, rest assured that our buses are heated. On cold-weather mornings, our drivers begin earlier than scheduled to start buses and warm them up before the first stop.
If a school delay is issued, bus riders are asked to plan for an equal delay in the time for their bus to arrive. If a bus stop was regularly scheduled for 7:10 a.m., a two-hour delay would change the bus stop to 9:10 a.m.
If your child is a car-rider or driver, a two-hour delay would be applied to the beginning time for his/her school. If his/her school begins at 7:30 a.m., a two-hour delay would change the beginning time to 9:30 a.m.
Monitoring our facilities
We monitor building conditions to ensure that building utilities are fully operational. Our school facilities are monitored electronically. We are able to activate heating and cooling systems and monitor building temperatures remotely. On inclement weather days, designated employees arrive to work earlier than their regular time to “walk-thru” building to make sure utilities are in working order. As a part of preventative measures, our Facilities Department goes through a “winterization” process for campuses; protecting pipelines, checking heating systems, shutting off irrigation systems and providing tools to help remove ice from walkways.
School Districts are required to schedule at least three make-up days for days of cancellation. Delayed starts and early dismissals for inclement weather would typically not have to be made up. The District will make a notification about any make-up days as soon as that information is determined.
- State law requires school districts to announce make-up days for school cancellations, which is published on the School Calendar given out at the beginning of each school year.
- If make-up days have been used, the Horry County Board of Education may waive up to three-additional days (days 4-6).
- If more than six days are missed, the State Department Board of Education may waive up to three more additional days (days 7-9).
- Absences beyond nine days due to inclement weather requires South Carolina General Assembly approval for a waiver.