During challenging winter weather conditions, such as we have experienced this week, PSESD staff should make every reasonable effort to get to and remain at work for their regularly scheduled commitments so services can be maintained for the students, families, districts and communities we serve.

At the same time, safety is very important, and all individuals are advised to always use good judgment about the risks of travel. During the winter months, it is a good time of year to review departmental practices related to winter weather emergencies.

Because we do not serve students directly at our Renton location, PSESD does not make the same closure decision as Renton or Tukwila School Districts. We do not have to be concerned about school buses, children walking to school, or the many other factors that schools have to worry about during weather related closures. So it is reasonable for the PSESD office, like other businesses to be open, when school districts are closed.

Though it is rare for PSESD to suspend operations due to weather, all departments should have emergency plans in place that:

  • Identify critical functions that must continue during a weather-related closing.
  • Identify essential employees who need to work to sustain critical functions if PSESD suspends operations.
  • Identify how to communicate work instructions to essential employees during suspended operations.
  • Identify opportunities for general daily work to continue through telecommuting when appropriate.

It is a good time to review and encourage employees to review their preferences at FlashAlert. FlashAlert is the fastest way to get notification of closures or delayed openings for PSESD, Educare, Highline Heritage and ReLife.  By visiting http://www.flashalert.net/id/psesd members of the PSESD community can sign up for alerts via cell phone message, text message and email. In the case of inclement weather (or any emergency), supervisors, staff and faculty are encouraged to monitor http://www.flashalert.net/id/psesd, where information and updates will be posted.

Now is also the perfect time to review the PSESD Inclement Weather Policy and Procedure which are both posted on mypsesd.org.

Certainly, each time winter weather is predicted, I will attempt to make the best decision when it comes to declaring a “snow day”, cancellation, or delayed opening.  The process continues to be the same as in past years:  it involves checking available weather reports and forecast services as early as 4:00 a.m., consulting with facilities, considering the status of other local school districts and businesses, as well as considering snowfall or ice amounts predicted through the course of the day.

Under most circumstances, weather cancellations or delays will probably hit the correct mark.  Sometimes, though, even with the best forecasting and due diligence, Puget Sound weather can be challenging.  Please be assured that PSESD closing decisions are never made lightly and always have in mind the best interest of staff and the wider community that we serve.

Respectfully,

Frank Ashby

Deputy Superintendent