Snow closures are a fact of life for the majority of Americans. That is because at least 39 states across the nation experience winters that involve snow. Therefore, if you own and operate a childcare facility, you must have preparations once the weather turns cold. But how do you do this? In this article, we will define the parameters of a typical snow day and offer tips on how to prepare your childcare center to deal with the closures that result from inclement weather.
When To Close For A Snow Day
School closure is a challenging one to define. That is because so many variables exist with winter conditions. For example, if you live in a state with expected snow, an inch or two of new snow should be simple to get around. However, if you live somewhere where just a skiff of snow makes drivers panic, snow closures may be an automatic default. The general rule of thumb in deciding if you should call a snow day or not should rest on the safety of your teachers and the families who rely on your service.
If traveling to your facility is problem-free, then that will give you some direction. The same can be said if road conditions are treacherous and travel is difficult. Another way to gauge whether or not to call a snow day is to follow the lead of your local public schools. If buses are not running, it is safe to say that road conditions are not safe.
Also, it is wise to make your snow closure decision early in the morning instead of late the night before. This determination is because conditions will change overnight, and making a morning decision is based on current conditions rather than how the roads were several hours earlier.
How To Prepare For A Snow Day
Here are a few tips to help you navigate the complexities of a snow day:
Have A Snow Closure Policy
One of the most important things you can do for your childcare center is to have an established snow closure policy. Parents should be aware of it when they enroll their children. It does not need to be complicated, but it should include the following:
1 – Details on How To Make A Snow Closure Decision
Spell out the factors you consider, so parents understand that you take safety seriously. Outline what weather conditions and parameters you use to influence your decision.
2 – Who Makes The Snow Closure Decision
Do you make the call? Does the owner make the snow closure decision if you do not own your childcare center? Who decides if multiple centers exist in and around the city, region, or state?
3 – Describe The Mechanics Of An Early Dismissal
There will be days when you are open in the morning, and weather conditions turn during the day, forcing you to implement the snow closure policy. You will want children to get home early before the storm gets bad. How will that unfold?
4 – Fees and Snow Closures
Will there be a refund in case of a snow closure? Some childcare centers do this, while others do not. But, again, this will have to be a decision made well before establishing your snow closure policy.
Update Parents Regularly
As you monitor weather conditions and you could be contemplating a snow closure, it is a good idea to keep parents in the loop. They should be able to ask if you are open for the day. Through regular communication, you will be able to keep parents informed and prevent them from attempting to reach your facility when it is not safe to do so.
Include Your Staff In Planning
Keep your teachers in the loop as weather conditions change. These are the kinds of things they will need to know and will turn to you for the answers:
1 – Do They Have To Come To Work
You will inform parents of this decision when you declare a snow closure. In addition, notify the teaching staff.
2 – How Long The Snow Closure Will Last
Sometimes you won’t be able to answer this question. If a snow closure lasts longer than a day, ensure that you communicate with staff, so they know any closure extensions and possible re-opening times.
3 – How To Fill Their Time At Home
You can still assign your teachers tasks they can do while at home for the snow closure. Planning upcoming childcare activities is a good idea. So is encouraging your staff to research new and innovative games and activities to introduce to the curriculum.
4 – How A Closure Impacts Their Pay
Some childcare centers pay staff even during snow closures. Some do not. Therefore, it should be another part of your snow closure policy, and staff should know how the closure will impact their monthly pay and permit them to budget accordingly.
Assist Families With Snow Day Planning
If you have enough warning that the weather conditions may deteriorate in the next few days, you can help parents prepare for an upcoming closure. You can do this by sending children home with activities in the days leading up to a potential closure. Naturally, this won’t always be the case, but when you have the opportunity to help parents in this way, they will greatly appreciate it.
A snow day brings most everything to a halt. Unfortunately, meaning there will be closures throughout the community. If the weather makes getting to and from your childcare center unsafe for parents and staff, it is wise to close for a snow day. This decision is easier when you have a policy dealing with this situation and inform parents and staff once the weather turns. By caring for those that keep your service operating, you will ensure the doors will stay open when the weather improves.
Sandra Chiu works as Director at LadyBug & Friends Daycare and Preschool