How Nashville public schools decides whether to cancel classes

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A wintry blast is expected to hit Nashville, meaning cold temperatures, ice, snow and possible hazardous road conditions.

But the question on many the minds of many parents as they plan for the day ahead is: Will Metro Nashville Public Schools cancel classes?

The answer isn’t a simple one, given how weather forecasts bring different circumstances for the district. That could mean a delayed start, early dismissal or no cancellation at all.

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How will a decision get made?

There is a district protocol that district officials say they follow to inform parents of cancellations.

  • First, the district monitors weather patterns ahead of a storm, including evaluating road conditions and meeting with National Weather Service officials.
  • If the district decides to close schools — including a delay or early dismissal — the place to check is on social media channels. Nashville schools will update Twitter and are on Facebook at .
  • Parents will also get a phone call.  The district frequently has asked parents to ensure their information is up-to-date and accurate to ensure they get the call.
  • And lastly, check the news. The Tennessean will post news of any school closure or delay.

When will parents learn about a school closure?

Although the protocols have been in place for years now, there isn‘t an exact science to closing schools. Closures and delays have been announced at all hours.

And district officials have frequently said they rely heavily on weather models and experts for guidance.

That isn‘t always foolproof.

For instance, in January 2016 the district came under criticism from parents after snow began falling in the early morning and their children braved snow and icy roads to go to school.

Metro Schools ended up canceling school shortly after students arrived for class.

The district issued an apology that day, saying the weather models didn‘t predict snow to begin falling at that time. 

District officials have also said they don‘t take school closings lightly. The district provides transportation to more than 50,000 students daily. 

“Altering the school schedule has multiple impacts, including to families’ schedules and childcare arrangements, students who rely on school meals and employees’ work schedules and pay,” according to a news release from the district. “However, safety is always the first priority.”

What about after-school activities?

If there are delays, that means there are changes to after-school activities. That includes athletic practices, games, performances, parent meetings, but does not include TSSAA playoff games and tournaments.

Also, independent after-school providers are responsible for notifying parents about alternate schedules and closures.

What about snow days?

Nashville public schools typically sets aside five inclement weather days into its calendar. Any additional days missed outside of the five are rescheduled by the district.

Reach Jason Gonzales at jagonzales and on Twitter . 

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