- School Opening Delayed by Two (2) Hours
- School Closing to be One (1) Hour Earlier Than Usual
- School Closing to be Two (2) Hours Earlier Than Usual
- School Closing to be Three (3) Hours Earlier Than Usual
- Career & Technology Program will be on an adjusted schedule.
- Specific details may be obtained from the home school.
- A.M. half-day Pre-Kindergarten and A.M. PREP Programs will be canceled.
- Full day Pre-Kindergarten will follow the Carroll County Public Schools schedule as announced.
- P.M. PREP Program session will be on a regular schedule.
- Decision must be made by 10:45 a.m.
- Career and Technology Program will be on an adjusted schedule. Specific details may be obtained from the home school. (See School TImes for details.)
- A.M. half-day Pre-Kindergarten and A.M. PREP Programs still in session will be dismissed at 11:00 a.m.
- P.M. PREP Programs will be canceled.
On days when schools are closed or there is an early dismissal because of inclement weather, school activities scheduled for that evening as well as the Adult Evening Program Classes may be canceled. The school system and or individual school administrators will make separate announcements regarding evening and weekend activities that may be canceled.
Any decision to close schools, delay opening or dismiss schools early due to inclement weather is not made lightly. Every effort will be made to provide an instructional school day consistent with the published school calendar, and with our foremost concern always being the safe travel of all Carroll County Public School students.
When inclement weather conditions occur, the decision may be made to delay the opening of school by one or two hours, to close school, or to dismiss school early. An announcement will be made for delayed openings or closings by 6:00 a.m. Every effort will be made to make the announcement as early as possible.
In rare instances, there may be an announcement made to delay the opening of schools, but that a re-evaluation may occur. The re-evaluation could result in a later announcement that schools will be closed for the day. A final decision to close schools following the “delay with re-evaluation” announcement will be made by 7:00 a.m.
All weather-related announcements will be made through the following media outlets:
WTTR 1470 AM, WBAL-TV Channel 11, WJZ-TV Channel 13, WMAR-TV Channel 2, WBFF Fox 45, WPOC/WCAO/B104.3, WBAL Radio 1090 AM, Metro Network V-103 (WXTR, WWLG-AM, WGRX, WCAO, WASA, WANN, WBGR, WJHY, WNAV), Infinity Broadcasting (WQSR/WWMS/WMIX 106.5/WLIF 101.9), WRBS 95.1 FM, WAFY-KEY 103, WGET 1320 AM/WGTY 107.7 FM, WHVR 1280 AM/The PEAK 98.5 FM, WFMD 930 AM/WFRE 99.9.
Allegany County has a separate weather zone that encompasses the Frostburg, George’s Creek area. This part of Allegany County is in the higher elevations and averages more than double the amount of snow than the rest of the county. The Allegany weather zone has a pure feeder system served by one high school, two middle and five elementary schools. All of the students residing within this zone attend one of the five elementary schools. Each of the these elementary schools feeds into one of the two middle schools, and the two middle schools feed directly to the one high school. The Allegany zone is the most frequently used of the four currently existing weather zones in the state of Maryland. Over the past twenty years the Allegheny zone has been closed fifty percent more than the rest of the county and has been delayed two hundred and fifty percent more than the rest of the county. In a typical winter, Allegany County will close school 8 days county wide and close the Allegheny weather zone 12 times, and will delay school county wide 10 days and delay the Allegheny weather zone 25 times. When Allegany closes the weather zone, the Career & Technology students and the regional special education students in the zone do not attend school while students in those programs in the remainder of the County do attend school. The alternative school for Allegany County is located in the weather zone but draws students from throughout the County. On days when the Alleghany zone is closed and the rest of the County is open, these students do not attend school. When the Alleghany zone is closed and the rest of the County is open, one third of the students in the county remain home while two thirds go to school. Logistical issues exist when the zone is two hours late and the remaining county is on time. Some buses are late and some Special Education buses can not make the time frame and several do not run at all.
Washington County has two weather zones, the Hancock area and the Cascade elementary area. The Cascade zone is made up of one elementary school and was established due to the severity of the weather conditions in the higher elevations near Camp David. When the Cascade zone is closed, not only do the Cascade elementary students not attend school, but middle and high school students that reside within the Cascade zone do not attend school as well. Special education students living in the Cascade zone do not attend school outside the zone if it is closed. When the Cascade zone is two hours late and the rest of the county is on time there are logistical problems that require four extra buses to be added to ensure that students arrive on time. Washington County Hancock zone is at the Western most part of the county. It includes Hancock High, Hancock Middle and Hancock Elementary schools all within the Hancock High school boundary lines. It is a pure feeder zone in that Hancock Elementary sends one hundred percent to Hancock Middle and Hancock Middle sends one hundred percent to Hancock High School. No other schools are in the Hancock zone. Special education students in the Hancock area attending regional centers outside the Hancock zone do not attend when the zone is closed. Career & Tech students do not attend when the zone is closed. However, when the zone is two hours late and the rest of the county is on time they do go to school two hours late. There are some logistical problems associated a two hour delay. Contractors are expected to traverse the roads in the zone when the area is closed/delayed because most still travel over the rest of the county in order to complete their runs outside the weather zone. The Cascade zone was used only once during the 2009-2010 winter. The Hancock zone historically is only used a couple of times each year.
Frederick County has a weather zone that encompasses Catoctin High and Middletown High in the higher elevations of the Catoctin Mountain range. The schools that are within the boundary lines of those two high schools constitute the weather zone. If the Catoctin zone is closed, the students attending regional special education, magnet schools and the Career & Technology do not go to school. If the zone is two hours late and the rest of the county goes on time, the zone goes in two hours late. There are logistical problems to get buses back to the zone area and still get to their other non-zone schools on time. Buses parked in a closed zone are still required to complete their routes in the rest of the county even though they may travel through hazardous roads in the closed zone. The Catoctin zone policy was recently re-established after not having a distinct weather zone for several years. Frederick County's practice requires dedicated buses for regular education runs for the two zones. Due to the lack of sufficient number of buses available, some special education routes and shuttle routes are not run when the zone is delayed. Substitute bus drivers and assistants are added if available.
Baltimore County has a weather zone that is contained within the Hereford High School boundary lines. It includes Hereford High, Hereford Middle, Prettyboy Elementary, Fourth District Elementary, Fifth District Elementary, Sparks Elementary and Jacksonville Elementary. When it was established, the Hereford zone was a pure feeder system . However, in 1995 Jacksonville Elementary was redistricted and does not feed one hundred per cent into Hereford Middle and Hereford High Schools. The Hereford zone covers the entire northern part of Baltimore County from south of the Pennsylvania line, to Carroll County to the West, and Harford County to the East. It has seven schools in it out of the one hundred and seventy two schools in Baltimore County. There are one hundred and sixty five schools not in the Hereford zone. When the Hereford zone is closed, like the other zones in the state, the students residing in the Hereford zone that attend Magnet programs, Career & Tech, Special Education regional programs and Special Education programs out of county do not attend school. Buses being garaged in the zone are required to travel hazardous roads in the closed zone in order to get to schools the buses service that are open. Recently, the Hereford zone was closed for the first time in five years when the rest of the school system went in two hours late. Historically, the Hereford zone is only called late two or three times per year when the rest of the system is on time and not usually closed. Because the Hereford zone makes up about twenty percent of the size (in area) of the county and is the entire Northern part of the county, and the fact that it is almost a pure feeder system it has been helpful to use the zone because the northern part of the county experiences the worst weather conditions. The existence of the weather zone requires intense planning to make it effective. Like the other zones, logistical problems occur when the zone is two hours late and the rest of the county is on time. It is confusing for Special Education students because some go and some don’t go to school. Some roads are split between the Hereford zone and the rest of the county. An example of this situation is Paper Mill Road, where students living in the Hereford zone on Paper Mill Road would not attend school if the Hereford zone were closed, while students residing just outside the Hereford zone on Paper Mill Road would attend school if the rest of the county remained open.
The question is often asked if weather zones in Carroll County could be implemented. The answer is a simple yes. A weather zone or zones could be created. However, if a weather zone were to be created questions like where would it be, why would it exist, and how would it be used would have to be answered. The most likely area to be a weather zone would be the Northern most part of Carroll County along the Pennsylvania border. This area of the county traditionally gets a little more snow than the rest of the county, but usually the difference is insignificant. Occasionally a storm like the one on February 26, 2010 that initially caused whiteouts in the Hampstead area spreads across the Northern part of the county covering Manchester Valley, Winters Mill and Francis Scott Key high schools. This storm did reach to Westminster but did not have significant impact South of Westminster. The typical snow storm that hits Carroll County not only covers the entire Northern part of the County, but extends throughout the county roads south of Route 26 close to Mt. Airy such as Gillis and Gillis Falls Road. For most storms, the road conditions in these areas are typically similar to the road conditions in the Northern part of the county. This is due to the topography of Carroll County. The highest elevations in Carroll County run from the North East to the South West along a line from Hampstead to Mt. Airy. Typically, higher elevations result in higher snowfall totals. The elevation for the Hereford zone is similar to the elevation for most of Carroll County. (See below)
Digital Elevation Model
Carroll County, Maryland
A weather zone would exist to allow the zone to have a different recommendation for it than the rest of the county. It would be used to possibly close it while the rest of the county went in two hours late. It could also be used to have the zone go in two hours late while the rest of the county was to go in on time. Carroll County weather is unique. Based on National Weather Service annual average snowfall totals, Northern and Central Carroll County averages 36 inches from the at the Western to Eastern borders corner borders o Pennsylvania line to south of Westminster. In fact, Carroll averages more snow than Frederick, Baltimore, Washington and Allegany County except within their snow zones. The average annual snowfall in the other counties snow zones is similar to the average in Carroll County including South of Westminster. (See below.)
To view the above diagrams in a larger view, click the link below:
In order for Carroll to create a snow zone to meet similar criteria as the rest of the school systems in Maryland using a weather zone, a Carroll County weather zone would encompass Manchester Valley High, Winters Mill High and Francis Scott Key High schools. If the zone was closed, it would mean that approximately 40% of the high school students in the county would not attend and approximately 60% would attend. These three high schools would all have to be included due to the fact they all experience basically the same weather conditions. None of the four high schools bordering Pennsylvania have a pure feeder system. If Manchester Valley High and Shiloh Middle were closed, it would mean for that some siblings living in the same house would stay home and his/her brother/sister would go to school. High school/Middle school students would stay home while their siblings attending Sandymount would go to school. Roads that would be closed for one school would be open for another. This situation could cause a liability issue for the school system if the bus were to have an accident traveling on a road closed for one sibling and open for the other sibling.
Since Carroll County does not have a pure feeder system, weather zones would result in some students residing in the same schools districts attending school while others do not. For example, Sandymount Elementary, West Middle, East Middle, and Mechanicsville Elementary would have some students attending and some students not attending. There are other issues connected with a zone such as when a zone is closed, none of the Carroll County Career and Tech students in that zone would go to their program. Special Education students residing in the closed zone would not attend regional centers, but other students in the remainder of the county would be attending. A two-hour delay for a zone causes logistical problems due to the fact that buses have multiple schools on their tight schedules and may not have sufficient time to return to a school serviced in the late zone on time.
The school zones in each of the other Maryland counties are in the higher elevations of those counties. Baltimore County’s Hereford zone has the highest elevation in Baltimore County, but is, as stated, about the same elevation as most of Carroll County. The weather experience of the past twenty-three years is that storms normally encompass most if not all the county. There have on occasions been an ice storm impacted one area more than another, but historically, this has not been the case. The snow days built into the CCPS calendar allow for the County-wide inclement weather policy to be effective. In addition, the option of a two-hour delay is effective in avoiding the worst of rush hour traffic and presents more daylight for drivers to see and experience the snow and ice for the first time. Based upon the fact that most storms affect almost all the county, the fact that the topography of Carroll is about the same from Hampstead to Mt. Airy, and the absence of pure feeder systems, a weather zone is not recommended at this time. In the future, if Carroll County begins to expand again and new schools are planned and built, and pure feeder systems can be achieved, a separate weather zone may be justified.
- Who makes the decision
- How is the decision made?
- How is the public notified?
- When is the decision made?
- Will we close schools when weather conditions worsen?
- How does re-evaluation work?
- How safe are school buses in inclement weather?
- What kind of training do bus drivers have for inclement weather conditions?
- Why doesn't Carroll County have weather zones?
- Who is responsible for clearing ice and snow from my street?
- How long does it take to plow and salt county and state roadways?
- What consideration is given for students walking to and from the bus stop?
- Are student drivers considered in the decision to delay, close or dismiss schools early?
- What is my responsibility during inclement weather?
When the school system is advised by the weather service that storm conditions may exist, three or four Transportation Services Department officials are sent out at 3:00 a.m. to survey the roads. Each section of the county is driven to determine if the roads are, or will be, safe for children traveling on school buses. Transportation Services Department staff is in constant contact with weather stations, county and state government staff, police, and transportation officials in other counties, as well as each other, during the road and weather assessment.
While on the road, the following factors are used to develop the recommendation for closing schools:
- Existing road conditions across the entire county. Remember, even if your street or road looks clear, travel elsewhere in the county may be dangerous.
- Amount of snow and ice that has accumulated, whether it will continue, and the amount of time required for road crews to clear county roadways.
- Air temperature and road temperature.
- Weather predictions – the school system prefers not making a decision based on weather predictions, which are not always accurate; however, weather predictions are considered in combination with existing conditions.
- School parking lots, school sidewalks and school bus loops.
- Other traffic - other traffic can slide into buses or make waiting at bus stops dangerous.
- Will observed conditions likely improve or deteriorate?
The Carroll County Public School System notifies parents and employees through SchoolMessenger phone calls and emails. Parents and employees may also opt to be sent a text message. Announcements are also placed on the school system’s website at www.carrollk12.org and posted on Facebook, Twitter, and CETV Channel 21. In addition, local and regional radio and televisions are contacted. You can find the list of radio and television stations contacted in the CCPS Informational Calendar Handbook.
The decision to delay or close schools must be made no later than 6:00 a.m. in order to notify bus contractors, radio and television stations, send a SchoolMessenger notification and post the decision on the CCPS website, social media, and Channel 21. However, every effort will be made to make the decision as early as possible.
When the decision is made to open schools on time and buses have already begun to pick up students, parents rely on this decision and in many cases leave for work.
Once students arrive at school and weather conditions worsen, it may be necessary to dismiss students early. In these cases, the school system will give adequate notice to parents using the procedures outlined under "How is the public notified?" A decision to close schools three hours early will be made by 10:00 am, a decision to close two hours early will be made by 11:00 am, and a decision to close one hour early will be made by 12:00 pm.
Since 2002, all new Carroll County Public School buses have been equipped with automatic tire chains which can be easily activated and de-activated by the driver flipping a switch in the driver’s compartment. Older buses are equipped with manual chains, which all drivers are trained to properly install. In addition, school buses have rear- tandem all-weather tires, anti-lock braking systems and heated mirrors. School buses weigh in excess of 20,000 pounds, making them one of the safest vehicles in inclement weather.
School bus drivers are licensed by the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration with a CDL B with Passenger, School Bus and Air Brake endorsements. All drivers receive extensive in-the-classroom and behind-the-wheel instruction. Drivers are thoroughly trained in inclement weather driving techniques such as reducing the speed of the bus, avoiding sudden stops, activating the strobe light, driving with headlights on, remaining extra vigilant at intersections and proper steering techniques in the event of a skid.
Unlike some counties that do have weather zones, Carroll County’s weather conditions typically do not vary significantly enough to justify creating weather zones. For instance, the conditions in the Hereford (northern Baltimore County) Zone can vary greatly from those in southern Baltimore County. In fact, the conditions in a storm throughout Carroll County typically resemble the conditions in the Hereford Zone of Baltimore County. In Frederick County, the elevations of their mountainous areas tend to make winter weather more severe. The elevations in Carroll County are fairly similar, with the highest elevated areas running from the southwest part of the county in Mt. Airy, northeastward through Westminster and continuing all the way to the far northeastern section of the county. In addition, there are numerous county-wide programs which require students to be transported from all parts of the county to Westminster area schools. Also, the feeder patterns for elementary, middle and high schools in Carroll County do not provide clean, geographical boundaries to permit regional weather zones. For more information, please read the additional information provided on weather zones in this website.
- It takes four to six hours to spread salt on all of the roads.
- It takes eight to ten hours to plow the roads once for an average snowstorm.
- There are 63 (trucks) different routes.
- There are 974 miles of roads.
- It takes up to four hours to plow once.
- It takes up to four to five hours after snow fall to plow to the pavement.
- There are 23 different trucks used for an average storm. More are available if needed, depending on the storm.
- There are 990 lane-miles of state roads within Carroll County.
The decision to alter the school schedule due to inclement weather is based on road conditions as evaluated and explained in Frequently Asked Questions “How is the decision made?” Students are expected to walk to the designated bus stop with parental supervision. The responsibility to clear sidewalks and driveways rests with the individual property owner. Please refer to CCPS Board of Administrators Regulation EEAC: Bus Routes and Stops for more information
It is recommended that students ride the bus to school. Studies show that students are at least 100 times safer riding to and from school on the bus than being transported in personal vehicles. In addition, heavy congestion in the parent drop-off and pick-up areas can complicate traffic patterns in and around schools.
- Parents should park their cars at least 30 feet away from the bus stop to improve visibility and reduce congestion.
- Parents should wait safely with their children at the bus stop to ensure their safety.
- Students should be waiting for the bus as it approaches and should not run to the bus. Running to the bus increases the possibility the child could slip and fall in icy conditions.
- Parents should make sure students are appropriately dressed for the weather conditions while waiting at the bus stop.