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Weather Policy

Policy

The Infant Toddler Center at Vassar College (ITC) and the Wimpfheimer Nursery School (WNS)’s School Closing and Delay Policy is designed to comply with New York State regulations for operating a licensed day care facility. These state regulations pertain to the safety of the young children within our care. There are three key issues: 1) meeting our adult: child staffing ratios during operating hours; 2) having fully operational heat, running water and electricity; and 3) having fully accessible, cleared emergency exits and access to emergency personnel. These standards are in place year round; inability to meet these standards may result in reduced operating hours or temporary closings regardless of the source of the problem (e.g. winter weather conditions; broken pipes; comprehensive staff illness).

In winter weather, we make every effort to stay open for as many hours as possible. Driving conditions are a primary factor in determining whether a closing or delay is necessary. The ITC and Wimpfheimer staff must be able to travel to work safely from their homes in distant towns including Highland, Stanfordville, Milton, Millbrook, Wappingers Falls, Hopewell Junction and others. We need enough staff present to provide for the children in our care per our regulations, and once we are here, we need to ensure that the children and our staff can return home safely at the end of our operating hours. Substitutes are not an option to meet our staffing requirements, since our subs are also parents who have children home from school when the schools are closed. For these reasons, the ITC and WNS may be opened on a delayed schedule, closed early, or closed for the whole day.

Procedure

For winter weather, decisions for school closings and delays are made between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. on the day in question. This is to allow the director time to collect the most recent information possible while still allowing enough time for parent and staff notification of the decision. In the event of extreme weather such as a blizzard or ice storm, closing decisions may be made the previous evening.

There are two options for parents and teachers to obtain information in the event of a school closing or delay:

Phone your child’s school. Call any of the following numbers for the recorded message (usually 5-6 rings). The same message will be posted on these two answering machines listed below no later than 7:00 a.m.

WNS Main Number: 437-5630
ITC Main Number: 437-7648

Cancellations.com. For the past five years, we have successfully used the web service Cancellations.com. You can sign up for this free service simply by logging on to http://www.cancellations.com. We have attached detailed instructions for signing-up for automatic email postings. We post our listings for both ITC and WNS together under “Wimpfheimer”. Please let Shawn, Julie or Nicole know if you have any questions or need assistance using this service.

If you hear information change on the radio (e.g. Spackenkill goes from a delay to a closing), check your email or call the answering machine again; a revised message will be posted if we change our initial decision. The message will clearly state it is a revision: “This is a revised message for the morning of February 19…”.

We generally use the Spackenkill Central School District when tracking information for a school closing or delay. This information is useful as an initial indicator that there may be a hazardous weather situation developing. However, this is only a guideline and each decision is based on frequent, direct information from various weather services.

Remember to call the office… It is always helpful for us to know whether or not to expect a child on any given day. It is especially helpful to know if your child will be attending on a day when we are using a winter weather schedule (delays and alerts). We adjust our staffing according to the number of children we are expecting on days with adverse weather conditions. Please call the answering machine at either the ITC (437-7648) or WNS (437-5630) and leave a message if your child will not be attending school.

Winter Weather Alert

We also have successfully implemented a Winter Weather Alert plan, which has allowed the school to remain open as long as possible on questionable weather days. In this plan, parents are informed that the ITC and WNS will be on a Winter Weather Alert via the answering machine message, or upon arrival in the morning (look for posted signs on the doors). Next to the sign-in sheet, parents are asked to leave email addresses and/or phone numbers where the person(s) responsible for picking up their child(ren) can be reached. On days when a Winter Weather Alert is in effect, ITC & WNS will be open but parents will need to be able to have their child picked up with a one-hour notice. Parents choosing to have their children at ITC/WNS are agreeing to have arrangements in place to pick their child up with one hour notice. This plan can only continue to work with full cooperation of the parents. Please carefully make your decision about whether you can meet these pick-up arrangements on days when a winter weather alert is in effect.

Community Families

The policy stated above is for community families enrolled at ITC and/or WNS. Since Vassar does not cancel classes in bad weather, the College offers a benefit of limited child care on snow days to cover the times that faculty teach classes. Wimpfheimer and ITC will, therefore, stay open on a limited basis to meet the needs of Vassar faculty and administrators by providing emergency child care. Please address any questions to Rachel Kitzinger, Dean of Planning and Academic Affairs, at rakitzinger@vassar.edu.

School Closings and Delays Due to Winter Weather and Other Emergencies

Specific Procedures for Parents Employed by Vassar College

We recognize that delayed openings and school closings create a difficult situation, especially for faculty with morning classes since they may not have time to make alternative child-care arrangements. We are offering the service described below to allow faculty to teach classes. However, this service puts a burden on the Wimpfheimer/ITC administration that needs to be recognized.

Child care service: Your children will be safe and well-cared for, but no curriculum or formal programming will be provided on these days. PLEASE do not pack anything that needs to be heated for lunches (toddlers-kindergarteners), as staffing is limited and heating lunches takes a staff person out of the room at a key transition time. Thank you for your cooperation.

Child care locations: Infant care is always at the ITC. For children enrolled at Wimpfheimer, care is always at Wimpfheimer. Toddlers at the ITC go to WNS on days the school is closed for the whole day; otherwise, toddlers at the ITC go to the ITC (delayed openings; early closings).

Faculty: We will provide child care for faculty members during their scheduled teaching hours. Coverage will be available one hour before faculty have their first class on a given day, and continue until forty-five minutes after their last scheduled class has ended. Each faculty member will be given a set schedule corresponding to their class schedule. For example, if you teach on Tuesdays from 10:00-11:15 a.m. and 1:30 to 2:45 p.m., your scheduled child care coverage for that day will be 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Coverage for office hours directly before a scheduled test will be provided; however, faculty must notify Shawn in advance via email of this request, including the specific date and time of your office hours.

December study week and final exams. We will prepare a similar schedule according to your scheduled review sessions, office hours and final exams in December. You will receive a form to complete so we can create a schedule beginning Wednesday, December 9th through Friday, December 18th. Please schedule review sessions and office hours on or before Tuesday, December 15th whenever possible, as our college student coverage drops off greatly after this time.

Administrators: We will provide child care for administrators in morning or afternoon slots. The morning slot will extend from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.; the afternoon slot from 12:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. For each day of the week, we will ask each administrator his/her preference for a morning or afternoon slot, in order to cover meetings that are essential and on a fixed schedule. We will make every effort to accommodate your preferences; if we cannot accommodate your preferred time slot for a given day, we will contact you to discuss your options before we finalize your schedule. Each administrator will therefore have a fixed scheduled of morning or afternoon slots for each day of the week.

Please call or email if you will not be using your designated child care hours on a specific day.

If you send your plans by email, please contact juriess@vassar.edu AND shpraterlee@vassar.edu AND nibonelli@vassar.edu, since these three administrators will share the coverage of Wimpfheimer and the ITC.

If you do not have access to email service, please call 437-5630 and leave a message stating your child’s name, where they are enrolled, and that you will not be using the child care service.

Closings. In the case where the weather conditions make it dangerous to open the school in the judgment of the director, there will be no emergency child care coverage at the ITC or WNS. Such conditions are, for example, heavy continuous snowfall at the time of arrival when it will be impossible to keep emergency exits clear. Full closings will be announced as early as possible; it is the responsibility of parents to check their email or phone the school for closing information.

Non-coverage dates. Emergency child care cannot be offered between January 5 to January 19, 2010 and March 8 to March 12, 2010, as these are breaks when the college students are not here. We will email Vassar employees the list of students who are staying on campus during this time and who have expressed interest in providing child care in your home. Arrangements with these students are the responsibility of the parents.