The process for determining a delayed opening or a closing begins the night before with a close monitoring of weather predictions. The district uses five weather prediction services: Skyguard, WFMZ/Channel 69 Storm Center, National Weather Service, Weather.com, and the phone app, Dark Sky. The process continues the following morning around 4:00 AM, when district representatives begin driving East Penn roads, monitoring conditions. The representatives confer with township road departments and PennDot regarding the timing of plowing and salt treatments and the condition of primary, secondary, and back roads. This information is then called into the Superintendent between 4:30 AM and 5:00 AM. At the same time, the Superintendent confers with all other Superintendents in Lehigh County to discuss their findings and conclusions. Between 5:00 AM and 5:30 AM, the Superintendent makes an informed decision for East Penn and if a closing or delay is warranted, the announcement is made through the district’s emergency notification system (EduLink), the district’s website, and media outlets. A review process continues throughout the morning in which real-time weather conditions are monitored and the transportation company is consulted on the conditions of the roads – this enables the district to to assess the effectiveness of its decision.
Announcing the Night Before
If there is significant snow or ice on the ground the night before an event and the weather predictions are consistent for the following day, the district may choose to make the call that evening. However, this will be rare. This is because often weather predictions change dramatically in the 12 hours between an evening announcement and the next morning’s actual conditions. We’ve all seen blizzard predictions turn into sunny skies and six inches of snow turn into a half inch of rain.
Snow and Ice
Delayed openings are primarily utilized when conditions on primary, secondary, and back roads are hazardous in the early morning hours and it’s anticipated that the township and borough road crews can have them cleared within two hours or less.
Delayed openings will seldom be used to address excessive cold. Historically, extremely cold temperatures, with or without a wind chill factor, do not improve significantly throughout the morning. Since a delayed opening does not help much with the cold and we certainly don’t want to lose the entire day by closing, school will usually open on time, even if it is quite cold. As long as the district can get the buildings warm and the buses started, we will usually remain “open for business”.
If weather predictions indicate that normal dismissal times will be hazardous, an early dismissal may be warranted. This decision is usually made between 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM and parents are informed through EduLink, the district website, and media outlets.
Consistency with Other Schools and Districts
There will be times that all districts in Lehigh County will make the same call and other times when the decisions will be different. This is due to varying conditions and terrain in each of those districts.
There may also be times when non-public or charter schools choose to go with a delayed opening and East Penn School District does not. When that happens, the East Penn School District will honor the request. Students will be transported according to the delayed schedule requested by the non-public or charter school.