• CCSD School Closure and Delay Procedures

    Security vehicle in the snow

    In case of an emergency or severe weather, Charleston County School District (CCSD) follows a plan to determine if a normal instructional day or extracurricular activities have to be delayed, canceled, moved to eLearning, 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, local municipalities, and other CCSD departments.
    • OSEM provides reports as necessary to members of the district’s leadership team including the Superintendent, the Deputy Superintendent, the Chief Operating Officer, the Chief Academic Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Human Resources Officer, the Executive Director of Transportation, the Associate of Facilities Management, the Executive Director of Communications, and other individuals as needed.  Depending on the situation, all or a portion of this group will provide advice to the Superintendent.
    • The decision to alter normal operations ultimately rests with the Superintendent of Schools.  The following factors will be considered in making the decision to close schools/offices or alter schedules: overall safety and wellbeing of students and staff; ability to safely transport students via bus; ability for staff and families to safely travel area roads; capacity to maintain academic instruction in light of the threat/hazard; ability to provide food and nourishment to students/staff; and/or ability to provide a safe environment within the school building/office.
    • In the case of weather-related threats, high wind forecasts receive a great deal of scrutiny.  Based on guidelines from the S.C. Department of Education, school buses should not operate when sustained wind speeds exceed 30 MPH or wind gusts exceed 40 MPH.
    • It is important to remember that these decisions are complicated and are made based on the best information available at the time.  They are not made lightly, nor are they made in haste.  The single most important factor in any decision is the 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 direct communication from central staff.

      • Every staff member receives email communication sent through our mass notification system.

      • A text message from the district’s Blackboard notification system goes out to families and staff. Text messages are sent to the cell phone number stored in PowerSchool.

      • A phone call goes out to family and staff.  Phone calls are sent to the primary phone number stored in PowerSchool.

      • The announcement is 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 severe weather or public safety threat?

    • CCSD schools and district buildings that close due to severe weather or public safety threat are closed to students, families, and the public.  Only essential personnel are permitted on the campus.
    • When sufficient notice is provided, additional steps are taken to secure district buildings and property (e.g., loose items stored safely, flood mitigation measures installed, technology equipment may be covered).
    • All programs, activities, and athletic events/practices are canceled.
    • All instruction will typically move to an eLearning format.  Doing so will occur for the first five (5) days of closure in an academic year.
    • All employees will typically complete work remotely.  Doing so will occur for the first five (5) days of closure in an academic year.

    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.).  Families can find the regular bus schedule here using the bus lookup tool.
    • 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.  Supervision is not provided at school prior to the announced delayed schedule.
    • All levels will be dismissed at their normal times unless notified otherwise.

    Please note: During inclement weather, bus pickups may be delayed or suspended in specific areas of the county due to road conditions.

    What happens when schools are dismissed early?

    CCSD makes decisions to dismiss students early based on weather projections, traffic and road conditions, unforeseen issues that impact school operations, 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, a number of 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 directly 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).

    How does CCSD use Weather Makeup Days and/or eLearning Days?

    The linked memo addresses the use of weather makeup days.  Charleston County School District is an SCDE-approved eLearning district.  The current provision allows the district to use up to five (5) days of eLearning.  These days are for emergency situations, such as inclement weather or utility interruptions.  They are not planned days on the calendar.  While weather makeup days may be scheduled during breaks, it is important to note that weather days will only be used AFTER FIVE (5) eLearning Days are exhausted.

    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.