New FCPS Tornado Policy Could Close Schools

A tornado warning in Frederick County could result in school closure, according to a new Frederick County Public Schools (FCPS) policy.

Frederick County schools have a new plan in place in the event there is a tornado scare here. In April, school officials took heat from parents who worried their kids were put in harm’s way when forecasters warned of tornadoes in the area.

Now the Frederick County school system has updated its procedures for responding to tornado warnings. If there is a tornado warning in effect in Frederick County by 5 a.m. on a school day, FCPS will delay opening by two hours. If the warning affects only one designated area of the county, the school system may delay opening schools in that area only, but if the warning affects two or more areas, all schools will be delayed two hours. 

In this instance, parents should stay alert for changing conditions that may require schools to close the whole day.

If a tornado warning remains in effect for Frederick County beyond 7 a.m., FCPS will close all schools for the day. If the warning affects only one designated area of the county, the school system may close schools in that area only. But, if the warning affects two or more areas FCPS will close all schools that day.

Parents can find out if the tornado policy is in effect by logging on to www.fcps.org home page alert, FindOutFirst e-mail and text messages, FCPS TV on Comcast cable channel 18 and via numerous regional TV and radio stations.

Families concerned about student safety due to hazardous weather conditions always have the right to keep their children home. It is considered an excused absence when a student stays home because of severe weather. Parents, however, have to send a note or notify the school of the reason for the absence within two days of the student’s return to school.

School bus drivers receive training about the best ways to protect passengers if a tornado arises when they are transporting students. If a tornado warning is issued when school is already in session, schools follow procedures specific to their buildings. All teachers and school administrators have crisis manuals with instructions about handling numerous emergency situations including tornados. School administrators are trained in emergency response procedures and will conduct related practice drills during the school year. 

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