CCSD School Closure and Delay Procedures
In case of an emergency or severe weather, Charleston County School District follows a plan to determine if a normal instructional day has to be delayed, canceled, or end early. The steps in the process, and those involved, are listed below:
- The district’s Office of Security and Emergency Management (OSEM) gathers information from agencies such as the National Weather Service, the Charleston County Emergency Management Department, the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, local police departments, and local municipalities.
- OSEM provides reports as necessary to the district’s Inclement Weather Team, which is comprised of the Superintendent, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Academic Officer, Chief of Staff, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, the Chief of Staff, the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Executive Director of Transportation, the Associate of Facilities Management, and other individuals as needed. Depending on the situation, all or a portion of this group will provide advice to the Superintendent.
- If a decision must be made to alter normal operations, the Superintendent will have the final say. Factors that are considered in the decision include the impacts to student transportation (e.g., road conditions and high winds), school buildings, the amount of time before the beginning or end of a school day, and ultimately, the overall safety and well-being of our students and staff.
- The decision will be communicated in a variety of ways to a variety of local stakeholders in a rapid sequence:
- The Board of Trustees and Constituent Boards are informed.
- Principals receive word about the decision in case the buildings need to be secured.
- Every staff member receives word through email.
- A text from the district’s Blackboard notification system goes out to families and staff.
- A phone call goes out to family and staff.
- Posts about the news are placed on the district website and social media platforms.
- A press release is sent to the media to provide a wider scope of messaging.
The Governor of South Carolina also has the authority to close schools and school districts because of impending severe weather (such as a hurricane), a pandemic, or any other type of emergency or disaster.
What happens when schools/district offices are closed due to emergency/severe weather?
- All CCSD school and district buildings are closed to staff members (except for essential personnel), students, families, and the public.
- Schools and district buildings are secured (e.g., doors, locks, loose items stored safely, technology may be covered).
- All programs, activities, and athletic events/practices are canceled.
What happens when schools operate on a delayed start?
- Buses start their routes on a delay (one hour later for a one-hour delay, two hours for a two-hour delay, etc.).
- No morning Pre-K/Primary Montessori; afternoon classes will start at normal times.
- Walkers, bike riders, and those who use private transportation should plan to be at school at the delayed start times – not before.
- All levels will be dismissed at their normal times unless notified otherwise.
Please note: During inclement weather, bus pickups may be delayed.
What happens when schools are dismissed early?
CCSD makes decisions to dismiss students early based on weather projections, traffic and road conditions, and the amount of time left in the school day. Every effort will be made to avoid an early dismissal. However, if a decision is made to dismiss a school, schools, or every school in the district due to emergency/severe weather, that will be communicated in the same way as a decision to cancel school/delay the start of school (see above).
What happens if afterschool activities/athletic events need to be canceled?
If weather conditions are forecasted to worsen significantly throughout the day, it may be necessary to cancel afterschool activities in order to keep students and staff safe. In an effort to meet the needs of individual schools, sometimes school administrators will determine if those events should be canceled, and schools will communicate with parents.
If the decision is made to cancel afterschool activities district-wide, the decision will be communicated in the same way as a decision to cancel school/delay the start of school (see above).
Additional Information and Background
For additional information about school closures and weather make-up days, refer to South Carolina Code of Laws Section 59-1-425: Beginning and length of school term; make-up days; instructional days.
SECTION 59-1-425. Beginning and length of school term; make-up days; waiver; instructional days.
(A) A local school district board of trustees of the State has the authority to establish an annual school calendar for teachers, staff, and students. The statutory school term is one hundred ninety days annually and must consist of a minimum of one hundred eighty days of instruction covering at least nine calendar months. However, beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, the opening date for students must not be before the third Monday in August, except for schools operating on a year-round modified school calendar. Three days must be used for collegial professional development based upon the educational standards as required by Section 59-18-300. The professional development must address, at a minimum, academic achievement standards including strengthening teachers' knowledge in their content area, teaching techniques, and assessment. No more than two days may be used for preparation of opening of schools and the remaining five days may be used for teacher planning, academic plans, and parent conferences. The number of instructional hours in an instructional day may vary according to local board policy and does not have to be uniform among the schools in the district.
(B) Notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary, all school days missed because of snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions requiring schools to close must be made up. All school districts shall designate annually at least three days within their school calendars to be used as make-up days in the event of these occurrences. If those designated days have been used or are no longer available, the local school board of trustees may lengthen the hours of school operation by no less than one hour per day for the total number of hours missed, operate schools on Saturday, or may waive up to three days. A waiver granted by the local board of trustees of the requirement for making up the three or fewer days missed only may be authorized by a majority vote of the local school board, and, after the completion of the 2014-2015 school year, may not be granted for a school in the district until the school has made up three full days, or the equivalent number of hours, missed due to snow, extreme weather, or other disruptions requiring the school to close during the same school year in which the waiver is sought. When a district waives a make-up day pursuant to this section, the make-up day also is waived for all charter schools located in the district and for all students participating in a home schooling program approved by the board of trustees of the district in which the student resides. Schools operating on a four-by-four block schedule shall make every effort to make up the time during the semester in which the days are missed. A plan to make up days by lengthening the school day must be approved by the Department of Education before implementation. Tutorial instruction for grades 7 through 12 may be taught on Saturday at the direction of the local school board. If a local school board authorizes make-up days on Saturdays, tutorial instruction normally offered on Saturday for seventh through twelfth graders must be scheduled at an alternative time.
(C) The State Board of Education may waive the requirements of making up days beyond the three days forgiven by the local school district, not to exceed three additional days missed because of snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions requiring schools to close. Such a waiver only may be considered and granted upon the request of the local board of trustees through a majority vote of that local school board. The State Department annually before July first shall provide the General Assembly with a detailed report of information from each district listing the number of:
(1) days missed and the reason, regardless of whether any were missed;
(2) days made up; and
(3) days waived.
(D) If a school is closed early due to snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions, the day may count towards the required minimum to the extent allowed by State Board of Education policy.
(E) The instructional day for secondary students must be at a minimum six hours a day, or its equivalent weekly, excluding lunch. The school day for elementary students must be at a minimum six hours a day, or its equivalent weekly, including lunch.
(F) Elementary and secondary schools may reduce the length of the instructional day to not less than three hours for not more than three days each school year for staff development, teacher conferences, or for the purpose of administering end-of-semester and end-of-year examinations.
(G) Priority during the instructional day must be given to teaching and learning tasks. Class interruptions must be limited only to emergencies. Volunteer blood drives as determined by the principal may be conducted at times which would not interfere with classroom instruction such as study period, lunch period, and before and after school.
(H) The State Board of Education may waive the school opening date requirement pursuant to subsection (A) of this section on a showing of good cause or for an educational purpose. For the purposes of this section:
(1) "Good cause" means that schools in a district have been closed eight days per year during any four of the last ten years because of severe weather conditions, energy shortages, power failures, or other emergency situations.
(2) "Educational purpose" means a district establishes a need to adopt a different calendar for a:
(a) specific school to accommodate a special program offered generally to the student body of that school,
(b) school that primarily serves a special population of students, or
(c) defined program within a school.
The state board may grant the waiver for an educational purpose for that specific school or defined program to the extent that the state board finds that the educational purpose is reasonable, the accommodation is necessary to accomplish the educational purpose, and the request is not an attempt to circumvent the opening date set forth in this subsection. Waiver requests for educational purposes may not be used to accommodate system-wide class scheduling preferences. Nothing in this subsection prohibits a district from offering supplemental or additional educational programs or activities outside of the calendar adopted under this section.
HISTORY: 2006 Act No. 260, Section 1, eff April 8, 2006; 2015 Act No. 21 (H.3890), Section 1, eff May 7, 2015; 2016 Act No. 281 (H.5140), Section 1, eff June 22, 2016.
Effect of Amendment
2015 Act No. 21, Section 1, rewrote (B) and (C).
2016 Act No. 281, Section 1, in (A), made grammatical changes.