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opinion Perham,Minnesota 56573 http://www.perhamfocus.com/sites/all/themes/perhamfocus_theme/images/social_default_image.png
Perham Focus
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Parents: Sign up for weather notification
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Last year on a nasty cold evening, I was in my living room, on my cell phone with the bus company, discussing road conditions and weather predictions. My husband was in the room, watching the news and occasionally texting on his cell. "That's it. Let's cancel school," I stated to the bus contractor. Before the conversation ended 30 seconds later, I received a text message from a student, asking, "Is school really off tomorrow?" It seems there was homework that could wait if school were cancelled. She wanted certainty before she began procrastinating. Smart kid.

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"How did you hear about it?" I texted back, as quickly and deftly as one with a bifocal can type on a two inch keyboard. I was amazed that a minute-old decision, one made in the privacy of my own living room, no less, was public. "It's all over Facebook," she replied.

Good news travels fast, indeed. When I said, "Let's cancel school," my niece had just texted my husband to ask if he knew school was on or off. My husband texted, "Off." She then posted the news on Facebook. Instantly, Yellowjacket homework stalled.

Though the weather has been kind to the school business this year, Mother Nature is fickle. Thus, we need to talk about winter weather notification.

As promised, the funds from calendar sales helped purchase a family notification system. Here is how it works: parents / families must have an account on Infinite Campus, our student information system. (Contact the school office if your family needs to set up an account.) Next, families may direct weather related announcements to be sent to them via email, cellular telephone, home telephone, or a work telephone if a parent has a direct telephone line to him or her at work. This notification system will push out weather related decisions instantly - but obviously only to parents who have signed up.

Some things are not new. The School Board determined that "late starts" and "early outs" affect only the bus schedule, not the school's hours. In other words, buses may run two hours late (morning) or leave school early ("early out") yet the K-12 schools will remain open as normal. Why?

Some parents must be at work on time and stay at work. They may not have an adult at home or emergency daycare. The safest place for their children may well be at the school house itself. In such cases, parents must transport their children because the buses would have run on an altered schedule.

Gossip experts may tell you that this decision has more to do with funding than service. That's untrue. Generally speaking, missed days are made up later and funding is not impacted a cent.

The bottom line is that concern for children involves changing old patterns to better fit needs of modern day families. While I use caution, common sense, and a great deal of concern when making the weather call for the district, I know my decision is never perfect. What works well for one family may not work at all for another. Parents know best. Thus, it is well respected that parents make the right decision for their own children to "stay or go" on tough weather days.

No question - it's making ice out there, and there's lots of winter left. Please sign up for weather notifications. Thank you for your time and attention. Stay warm.

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