UPDATE 8 p.m. Thursday: Lower Merion School District announced power had been restored to Cynwyd and Penn Valley elementary schools and to Bala Cynwyd Middle School, allowing them to open for classes on Friday.
Earlier Thursday, the district had planned to close the schools, along with Harriton High School, on Friday.
Harriton will remained closed, the district confirmed Thursday night; power has not been restored there.
The district posted the following notice about 4 p.m. Thursday:
The following schools will be OPEN and operating on a normal schedule tomorrow: Belmont Hills, Gladwyne, Lower Merion, Merion, Penn Wynne, Welsh Valley
As of 4 PM, the following schools are CLOSED tomorrow: Bala Cynwyd, Cynwyd, Harriton, Penn Valley. If a school that is listed as CLOSED in this email is able to open in time for tomorrow, parents will be notified no later than 11 PM tonight.
Please note that AM & PM Kindergarten will be provided only in those schools that are open. We will be providing busing for private school students tomorrow.
A reminder that following precautions are still in place:
- Expect buses to be late. Due to road closures, many of our buses will need to take alternate routes to get to your bus stop. These routes are changing by the hour. In some cases, it may not be possible for our buses to reach you. If you have been waiting more than 20 minutes beyond your scheduled pick-up time, please call (610) 645-1940 to check on the status of your bus.
- Stay with your child at the bus stop. For safety reasons, we strongly recommend that you stay with your child until he/she has been picked up by the school bus.
- Consider alternate transportation. We encourage you to have a “back-up plan” to ensure your child’s safe arrival at school tomorrow. Parents/guardians may choose to drive their children to school or carpool with other school families.
- Dress warmly. Many of our buildings have been without power for several days and it will take time for them to warm up. We encourage students to bring extra layers of warm clothing.
- Walk to school with your child. For parents/guardians of children who walk to school, please consider escorting them tomorrow morning. There are still trees, branches and power lines down and some walking routes will be difficult to navigate.
Again, we will send an additional update by 11 PM ONLY if we are able to open additional schools.
Thank you for your consideration and understanding.
Dr. Christopher McGinley
Superintendent of Schools
The district posted the following notice about 2 p.m. Thursday:
Dear LMSD Parents/Guardians:
We deeply regret the continued inconvenience due to school closures and wanted to follow-up with additional information regarding the status of our schools. Below you will find a list of answers to "Frequently Asked Questions" compiled over the past 24 hours. If you have additional questions or concerns, please email us at email@example.com and we will respond to you as soon as possible.
This has been a difficult week for our schools and families, and we know it has been made more challenging by the last-minute need to find child care, change work schedules and important appointments, and even to change Halloween plans. This is clearly not an ideal situation and we, like you, hope it will be resolved quickly.
Thank you for your continued patience and understanding. We will be back in touch with you later this afternoon.
Dr. Christopher McGinley
Superintendent of Schools
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding School Closures
Q: Why did the District close all schools when only some are without power?
A: When we communicated with you yesterday, we had been told by PECO officials that all schools, except Harriton, would have power today. We also expected roads to generally be passable and safe for travel. Late last night, we learned from PECO that power would continue to be out at in at least half of our schools. During a check of the roadways early this morning, we continued to encounter numerous downed trees and power lines in the community. Additionally, the District is experiencing significant Internet outages due to repairs being made today to the community's telecom infrastructure. This combination of factors led to the decision to cancel school today.
Q: When will you know if there is school tomorrow?
A: We continue to monitor progress throughout the community and will make an announcement by 4 PM. If power has been adequately restored to our schools and the roadways are safe, we will do everything we can to open schools tomorrow -- even if this does not include all schools. Please note that whatever decision is made today would only be updated if PECO is able to restore power to additional buildings. If a school that is listed as closed today regains power and is able to open, parents will be notified no later than 11 PM tonight.
Q: Wouldn't it make sense to close schools tomorrow and advise PECO to restore power to community members first, and let them get to schools over the weekend?
A: PECO has assured us that they are working to restore power to the entire community, including the schools, as quickly as possible. They are working in areas of need; they are not diverting resources away from community members in an effort to prioritize the school buildings.
Q: What are you doing about after-school activities?
A: After school activities for Thursday are cancelled, except in certain cases at the high school level that have been directly communicated by the athletics/activities director.
Q: Have any decisions been made regarding make-up days? I know next Tuesday is an off day for Election Day. Is there any chance you could change that to a full day of school?
A: No decision has yet been made regarding make-up days. Tuesday is currently not an option due to security concerns on Election Day.
Q: Should school open tomorrow, our bus stop is still not accessible due to road closures. Where should my child go to wait for the bus? What happens if the bus is running late?
A: If the bus has not arrived within 20 minutes of its scheduled arrival time, please consider transporting your child yourself or call the Transportation Office at 610-645-1940 and we will make arrangements for pickup. We will not be able to make alternate pickups until all bus runs are complete (approximately 9:30 AM). If you believe your bus stop is not accessible due to blocked roads, please try to wait at a nearby accessible bus stop or call Transportation. We will make every effort to get all students to school safely, however everyone should expect delays from normal schedules.
Q: Our street is still blocked; we have no power and we are still cleaning up from the storm. If school is "on" tomorrow, would our children be excused if they cannot attend?
A: All school absences are handled on a case-by-case basis. Please communicate directly with your principal or grade-level principal regarding the reasons for an absence.
Q: I heard a rumor that teachers have been posting assignments on e-boards during the past few days. Is this true? Is there an expectation that my child should have been staying up to date on the e-boards? Will the work posted on e-boards during off days be assessed?
A: Teachers post assignments and materials to e-boards throughout the year, during and outside of regular school days/hours. Any assignments that have been posted on e-boards during off days this week are not expected to be complete when school resumes. Your child will not be penalized in any way if they did not have access to the assignments and/or did not begin or complete them during our off days.