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The lessons school districts say they learned from last year's winter weather

FILE -- Last winter's snowy and icy weather caused many school closures and delays. (KATU File Photo)

Last winter was a bear for many students and parents, mainly because of the snow and ice that canceled so much school.

What lessons did the three big districts in our region learn from last year as kids head back to school?

Portland Public Schools has a new idea to help organize everything during inclement weather.

“The main change this year that the district will put into place is the emergency command center,” said PPS spokesman Dave Northfield. “So that will help us better coordinate all the information, and all the buses and the transportation information as the day unfolds.”

All the districts from PPS to Salem-Keizer and Beaverton said they assess each day and decide before 6 a.m. whether to delay or cancel school.

“We’ve got national as well as local forecasting systems,” said Beaverton School District spokeswoman Maureen Wheeler. “And we also work with other districts to make sure that we’re kind of in sync with what we’re seeing and hearing to make sure we make a best decision.”

But if conditions change during the day, most, including Beaverton, try to make decisions about early release quickly.

“We try to give a least a two-hour window of notice if it’s going to be an early release,” Wheeler said.

Typically, parents and students get the message for any delays or closures via text alert. Beaverton uses an app.

“School Messenger is our mass communications system. And that has the ability to text, email and voice messaging to our families,” said Wheeler. “We also have a banner alert that’s on our web page. We will also work with our media partners to post it to Flash Alert.”

You can count on KATU to get those notices out as soon as they’re posted, not only on the air, but also on our website and through the KATU weather app.

And when it comes to getting your kids home safely, all the districts said parents can help them by making sure their contact information, including who is authorized to pick up your child, is up-to-date.

“As good-hearted as people want to be, we have a responsibility to make sure the kiddos go home with the right people,” Wheeler said.

The districts also suggest every family has a plan for those inclement weather days to keep everyone safe.

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