Emergency Weather Information
Portage Township Schools makes the safety of our students and staff a top priority, and this includes situations involving adverse weather conditions. While we use several measurements to determine the best course of action for each individual situation, we encourage you to always have a detailed plan in place for school closings, 2-hour delays, and early dismissals. Plan for these types of weather emergencies at the beginning of each school year and discuss the plan with your child so they know exactly what to do.
Determining the best plan of action during inclement weather is a decision that requires much thought and collaboration. While our final decision regarding early dismissals, 2-hour delays, and school closings is a delicate one, we would like our families to keep in mind the following:
- The weather in Northwest Indiana is oftentimes unpredictable, especially during the winter months. Portage Township Schools will always keep the safety of our students in mind and monitor weather forecasts as closely as possible during the possibility of adverse weather events.
- As the parent or guardian, you know your child best and understand his or her ability to have a safe and successful day in adverse weather.
- Portage Township Schools respects the decisions of our families regarding whether or not to keep a child home during adverse weather conditions. In the case that a parent or guardian decides to keep a child home from school due to the weather, the parent or guardian should contact the child's school to report the excused absence. Students will have the appropriate amount of time as defined in the student handbook to complete all missing work.
- Portage Township Schools is committed to providing a warm and safe environment for all of our students, and some rely on us to provide breakfast and lunch. We always keep this factor in mind when making school closing decisions.
When the possibility of adverse weather presents itself, Portage Township Schools uses several avenues to assist us in making the best decision for our students. Below are the factors we use to determine what action, if any, we must take.
Monitoring Changing Conditions & Forecasts
Assessment of Road & Temperature Conditions
Collaboration with Porter County School Corporations
Snowfall & Low Visibility
When meteorologists predict snowfall totals, they generally give a range of possible amounts. Due to the uncertainty of snowfall totals, decisions regarding 2-hour delays or school closures will often be made in the morning when district, city, and county officials can determine the safety of our streets and visibility while driving. Occasionally, meteorologists will provide a forecast that contains great certainty of extremely high amounts of snow and/or low visibility in the morning or afternoon. In this case, Portage Township Schools may decide to call a 2-hour delay or school closure the evening before.
Extreme Cold & Wind Chill
Occasionally, the forecast for extreme temperatures and wind chills will cause a 2-hour delay or school closure. Portage Township Schools officials closely monitor these temperatures and will call for a 2-hour delay or school closure either the evening before or the morning of the forecasted weather.
Forecasting freezing rain and sleet is extremely difficult, as both air and ground temperatures must be favorable for ice to form. Freezing rain and sleet is, therefore, unpredictable, and making a decision on whether or not to delay or cancel school is difficult. When freezing rain and/or sleet in predicted, Portage Township Schools officials will work with our maintenance department, city and county officials, and predicted forecasts to evaluate road conditions and determine whether to delay or close school. Due to the unpredictable nature, this determination may not be made until the morning.
Severe Thunderstorms & Tornado Warnings
The warmer months of the year can bring about warnings for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. As with snow and sleet forecasts, predicting the possibility of an oncoming thunderstorm or tornado can be difficult. Damage or power outages may cause Portage Township Schools to call a two-hour delay or close school for the day. Additionally, severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings may cause a delayed dismissal at the end of the school day. District officials will closely monitor conditions from the National Weather Service and work with local organizations, such as NIPSCO and law enforcement agencies, to determine a plan that is in the best interest of all students. Due to the unpredictable nature, this determination may be made either early in the morning or close to the end of the school day.
If a 2-hour delay is announced, the delay will be effective for all of Portage Township Schools. On a 2-hour delay, all school morning procedures will be pushed back exactly two (2) hours. School start times are as follows:
- Portage High School 9:30 a.m.
- Willowcreek Middle School: 9:30 a.m.
- Fegely Middle School: 10:00 a.m.
- All elementary schools: 10:55 a.m.
Bus times will be approximately two hours later than their normal run times. For example, if your bus pick-up is normally 6:55 a.m., the adjusted time would be approximately 8:55 a.m. Parochial school pick-up times will follow the Portage High School or Willowcreek Middle School schedule. If a delay is declared and conditions do not improve, a school cancelation may be announced.
An early dismissal is called when school is already in session and a weather event or safety concern arises. In these situations, every effort will be made to announce the dismissal at least one and a half (1 1/2) hours prior to the dismissal times. If all schools are dismissed, the middle and high schools will dismiss prior to the elementary schools. A notification to this effect will be issued via our ParentSquare notification system, posted to the district's social media sites, and posted to school closing information websites.
When forecasts predict severe weather conditions, or there is a safety concern, Portage Township Schools may cancel the school day. In the event that school is cancelled, students will participate in an E-Learning Day and should follow their schools' procedures for completing work for the day. Every effort will be made to contact our families by 6:00 a.m. the morning of the cancelation. When our schools are closed, all extra-curricular activities, events, and sports are cancelled as well.
When severe weather creates extremely unsafe weather conditions at the end of the school day, Portage Township Schools may delay the dismissal of students. Every effort will be made to contact our families as soon as possible, and district officials will notify parents when students are dismissed. School buses will run their routes for the high school and middle schools first, then pick up elementary students approximately 30 minutes later.
Portage Township Schools families will be notified of any 2-hour delays, early dismissals, and school closures via our ParentSquare notification service. This service will automatically call the phone number provided to us at registration and that is on file with your child's school. You may also receive an e-mail sent to the address we have on file with your child's school as well as a text message. It is vital that this information is up-to-date and accurate; contact your child's school if you need to change or update your contact information.
We also encourage our families to obtain updates on the status of school by listening to local radio stations, viewing local television stations, visiting the Emergency Closing Center website, or visiting our social media sites.