Emergency School Delays and Cancellations

Dear Baldwin‐Whitehall School Community:

The decision to delay or cancel school is based upon several factors, but ultimately student safety is of utmost importance and concern. Weather is unpredictable and conditions vary throughout our communities. In the event it is necessary to delay or close schools, the District has developed procedures to communicate this information to the public.

Information regarding weather and road conditions is obtained from several weather forecasts, Emergency Management personnel, District transportation and maintenance personnel, community road crews, and (as a resident) first hand evaluation. The decision to delay or cancel school will generally be made by 6:00 a.m. with evening calls no later than 10:00 p.m. While I realize that the morning notifications are early, especially for elementary aged households, it is critical that the decision and subsequent notifications be made prior to our buses leaving the garage and beginning their high school routes. There may be occurrences due to the nature or timing of inclement weather that the notification would occur after 6:00 a.m. or a delay be changed to a cancellation. Normally, if school is cancelled, all evening activities and permits will also be cancelled.

In the event of a school delay or closing, you will receive an automated notification from the District SKYLERT messenger system. Messages are sent out as a “general” message within the system. The SKYLERT system can be customized for the manner in which the message is received (i.e., email, text, and/or phone). Your caller ID will display “Baldwin‐Whitehall School District Superintendent’s Office” along with the District’s main phone number of 412‐884‐6300. Please update your contact information to ensure the notification system meets your family’s individual needs. Additional information regarding the SKYLERT system can be found on the District website under the “Parents” tab.

While the SKYLERT system is an excellent way to stay informed of the latest events within the School District, we will also utilize the following information sources for communication of delay or closing information:

The winter season in Pittsburgh can be a wonderful time of year; however the weather can also create harsh conditions that we must all prepare for. There will be times when temperatures are cold and roads may be snow covered but school will be in session. Please make sure children are dressed appropriately for the cold weather.

Thank you for your continued support in keeping all children safe.

Randal A. Lutz, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn More About the Decision Making Process

The Decision: The Superintendent is required by law to ensure that schools are open on all scheduled days unless conditions become unsafe for students. Unsafe conditions can take many forms including, but not limited to, inclement weather, water line breaks and power outages. A critical consideration in making the decision based on weather related factors is whether school vans and buses travelling at safe speeds can transport students to school safely and reasonably on time.

The Process: Emergencies are unforeseeable and require immediate action consistent with the District or Building Safety Plan. If a decision is weather related, the process of gathering information begins as soon as the event is anticipated and relevant information is examined throughout the evening through the early morning hours. Whenever possible, the decision will be made the previous evening in order for the information to be sent via SKYLERT, the District Notification System and broadcast on the 11:00 p.m. news. Normally, the decision is made by 6:00 a.m. so that parents and students have adequate time to adjust their plans for the day. The District website, mobile application, and social media will also be used to communicate information.

The Information: Relevant information is provided to the Superintendent by the Director of Transportation and the Director of Operations after conferring with local police and public works departments. The United States Weather Bureau and local weather sources provide meteorological data to support the final decision. When appropriate, school personnel in surrounding districts are consulted. The primary reasons for delays or cancellations are dangerous road conditions and extreme cold.

Extreme Cold: The District will consider delaying the opening of school if the temperature drops to -10 degrees or colder. Predicted wind chills of -10 degrees or colder from sustained gusts will likely result in a school delay. If the temperature drops to -20 or colder, the District will cancel school. Similarly, wind chills of -20 degrees or colder from sustained wind gusts will likely result in cancellation. These temperatures are intended to be general guidelines.

Communication: Decisions to delay or cancel school will be communicated primarily through SKYLERT, the District Notification System. Additionally, information can be obtained through the media (KDKA, WPXI and WTAE) and the District website (www.bwschools.net), and social media. Since information is sent directly to parents and available through the media and website, please do not phone the schools or administration. The District’s position regarding delays and cancellations will always be public, and any changes or modifications will be communicated as soon as the need arises.

Non-Public Schools/Steel Center: Transportation for non-public schools, both within and outside the District as well as Steel Center, follows the Baldwin-Whitehall School District schedule. If BW schools are delayed, then all transportation services will be likewise delayed. If BW schools are closed, all transportation services shall be cancelled.

Transportation and Arrival Times: If school is delayed it will most likely be a two hour delay. In those cases, the students should report to their bus stop or school building two hours later than their normal time. For instance, if the bus stop time is normally 7:35 a.m., students should now report at 9:35 a.m. Children will not be permitted in the schools any earlier than the delayed starting time. All children should know which neighbor or relative to report to when parents are not at home or present at the bus stop. If school is cancelled, all transportation services will also be cancelled.

Parent Consideration: The Superintendent makes a decision for the District at large. However, conditions within the District may vary and parents may decide to send or not send a child to school based on individual factors. Parents have the right and responsibility to make decisions in the best interest of the health and safety of their own children. Consequently, the District will honor decisions made by parents who assess conditions, consider individual circumstances and act according to what they determine to be in the best interests of their child.