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SPPS Revises its Winter Weather Plan for the 2019-20 Season


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Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS) has revised its Winter Weather Plan for the coming winter season.

Rather than using two different procedures based on cold or snowy weather conditions, SPPS will now utilize a winter weather closure day. A winter weather closure means staff, students and families will stay home if temperature, wind chill, snow, ice, hazardous roads or other inclement weather conditions meet the criteria for closing. Previously, staff were required to work when the wind chill or air temperature met the criteria for closing schools for students.

“This change will allow us to provide an equal measure of safety for all,” said Joe Gothard, Superintendent, “We realize that everyone’s situation is unique and I want to err on the side of safety during our unpredictable Minnesota winters.”

Choosing to close the district is not an easy decision. Each winter storm can have its own unique set of challenges such as the time of the day the snow starts falling or whether it’s warm enough for salt to clear the roads. Unlike many suburban districts, delayed school start times are not logistically possible due to the number of buses and schools in SPPS.

That’s why Saint Paul Public Schools and Superintendent Joe Gothard consult with a variety of experts both inside and outside of the District including the National Weather Service and neighboring school districts. The SPPS transportation department is also out on the roads early in the morning to determine the expected delays for morning buses and may even recommend closure due to the conditions. 


Criteria for a Winter Weather Closure
The criteria for closing schools due to cold or snowy conditions remain the same as in previous years.

Cold Conditions
Closing due to temperature or wind chill

  • School will be canceled if the expected forecast for 6 a.m. the following morning shows:
    • Wind chill is below -35 degrees Fahrenheit OR
    • Air temperature is below -25 degrees Fahrenheit
  • The decision will be made by 6:30 p.m. the night before a cancellation.

Snowy Conditions
Closing due to snow or hazardous road conditions

  • School will be canceled if heavy snow and/or icy conditions make it extremely hazardous or impossible for school buses to travel their routes and for employees to get to work safely.

  • The decision will be made by 5 a.m. on the morning of a cancellation.


After-School Weather Cancellations
SPPS is also prepared to cancel after-school activities if weather conditions begin to worsen throughout the school day. The decision to cancel will now be made by noon. Afternoon Pre-K, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) and the regular school day continues as usual. Refer to the SPPS Winter Weather Plan for specific cancellations.

Last winter, schools that dismissed at 2 p.m. would dismiss 30 minutes earlier to help buses get a head start on the roads. This practice will no longer take place since most elementary schools now have earlier start and dismissal times. 


Overview of Changes

  • There is now one procedure for districtwide closures for snow or cold weather that meets the District’s criteria for closing. 
  • The decision to cancel after-school activities will be made by noon on the day of cancellation.
    • Afternoon Pre-K, Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) and the regular school day continue as usual.
    • All schools will dismiss at their regular times.
  • Athletics practices are canceled for a winter weather closure and for after-school weather cancellations. Games and competitions are decided on an individual basis and are posted on


How Will We Know About a Winter Weather Closure or Cancellation?

Saint Paul Public Schools uses a variety of methods to inform families, staff and the community about school closures and cancellations including, local media, social media, and direct communication through email, text messages and phone calls.

  • Families should make sure their contact information is up-to-date through Campus Parent.
  • Staff should make sure their contact information is up-to-date through Employee Self-Service.