How does RPS decide to close schools for winter weather?

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As Central Virginia prepares for inclement winter weather, many parents are wondering whether their children will have a full-day of school on Tuesday.

8News Anchor Amy Lacey sat down one-on-one with Richmond Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Dana Bedden, to learn more about how administrators make that decision.

Dr. Bedden says there is an ongoing conversation anytime winter weather is in the forecast.

“It is not uncommon for superintendents to start a communication thread between us,” he explains. “We email, text, group text messaging where we’re following and conversing back and forth what each other is seeing and anticipating in their jurisdictions, so it does start days before.”

Often the discussion covers more than what is happening in the city or any particular county, and those conversations typically happen around 4 a.m. on days when the conditions are actively changing.

“Part of what we have to do is talk to each other with regards to not only our own school district, but for instance here in Richmond, we have a number of staff who live in surrounding jurisdictions,” Dr. Bedden says. “So can they even get into work?”

Transportation and maintenance crews hit the roads to be eyes and ears throughout the area.

“So they will give me feedback on the road conditions, the status of our schools,” says Dr. Bedden. “Sometimes, you know, we have administrative offices opened but we don’t open schools, and that can be driven by the fact that we can’t get buses in certain locations.”

Because weather is not an exact science, Dr. Bedden says sometimes it is not a decision districts can make until the morning of a forecasted storm.

“We’re looking at health, safety and welfare and well-being of our students and staff in trying to make the decision, and that can be everything from we’re going to be closed to we’re going to have a delayed opening as part of the process.”

Dr. Bedden encourages Richmond parents to connect with the district on twitter to keep an eye on closings and delays: @RPS_Schools. He also often provides updates on his own twitter account, @Dr_Bedden.

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