Inclement Weather Transportation Plan Frequently Asked Questions


1. How do I find out if the District has closed schools because of snowfall?

This information is available at the following website flashalert.net

Local television stations, including the following, broadcast this information:


The following radio stations broadcast this information:

AM Radio Stations

KCIS 630
KIXI 880
KOMO 1000
KGRG 1330
KUOW 1340
KRKO 1380

FM Radio Stations

KPLU 88.530
KGRG 89.9
KSER 90.7
KMPS 94.1
KUOW 94.9
KIRO 97.3
KCMS 105.3
KRWM 106.9

Please note that there may be up to a 30 minute delay for television and radio stations to broadcast this information once they receive it from the District. In addition, some television and radio stations may modify the message slightly before broadcasting it.

2. How and when does the District make a decision about closing schools due to snowfall?

If snow occurs during non-school hours, District staff survey road conditions, monitor projected weather patterns, and provide a recommendation, on the safety of transporting students, to the Superintendent by 5 a.m. of the morning before school.

The Superintendent then makes the decision, and the decision is communicated to flashalert.net and television and radio stations as noted above. The decision is made this early to allow parents enough time to plan their day.

If snow occurs during the school day—or if a major snowfall alert is issued by the weather service during the school day, the District will evaluate the effect weather conditions have on safe transportation of students and may decide to:

  • Close schools early
  • Maintain normal operating hours
  • Delay bus departure time until traffic conditions improve

The Superintendent will decide by 11 a.m. either to release school early or continue to operate school for a full day.

3. If a snowfall occurs, and schools are to stay open and operate on regular routes, will there be an announcement?


4. What kinds of announcements does the District make?

In the case of inclement weather, Seattle Public Schools makes the one of the following four announcements:

1. Buses operating on snow routes. No door-to-door service. No Preschool or Head Start.

2. Two hours late. Buses operating on snow routes. No door-to-door service. No Preschool or Head Start.

3. Two hours late. Buses operating on regular routes. No door-to-door services. No Preschool or Head Start.

For the three above announcements, all school and program staff are expected to report at the regular time.

4. Schools closed.

If the District makes any of these four announcements, the following transportation is also canceled for that day:

  • All special services house pick-up routes
  • All noon routes
  • All before and after school activity routes
  • All field/athletic trips
  • All preschool and Head Start routes
  • All out-of-District routes

5. I've noticed that sometimes schools are closed throughout the District even though there’s no snow in downtown Seattle. Why is this?

Although the downtown area may be clear, there may be ice and snow in outlying areas, side streets, and hills. The District must consider the safety of all students when making a decision about whether or not to close schools.

6. I'm a parent or guardian and my student has assigned transportation. How do I find out where my child should catch the bus if the District is on snow routes?

The District mails letters to parents/guardians or families identifying these routes during the month of November. Parents can also call 206-252-0900 to identify their snow route.

7.What is a snow route and how is it determined? Why is it different than a regular route?

The District, in collaboration with the City of Seattle, identifies centrally located streets and major arterials that will be cleared first in the event of a snowstorm. Snow routes use these streets and arterials to improve student safety.

8. Does the District use robo-calls to notify parents and staff about possible school closures?

Yes. The District automatically phones parents and staff about school closures, if the decision has been made the night before.

9. Are there winter safety tips for students who are walking to school or to their bus stop?

Students should allow extra time to get to their school or bus stop in the morning.

  • Arrival at the bus stop five (5) minutes before the scheduled pickup up time is recommended.

Students should be dressed properly for the weather.

  • Bright clothing will make students more visible for bus drivers and other motorists, especially in the early morning and late evening.
  • Warm clothing is also recommended as transportation delays may occur.

Young children should be walked to their school or bus stop; older children should walk in groups.

  • The location of a student’s bus stop may be different from their normal stop location if the District is operating on snow routes.

Pedestrian travel should be done on sidewalks or a safe walking path.

  • When there is no sidewalk and you have to walk on the road, be sure to walk facing traffic.
  • Walk across a street at corners, use crosswalks whenever possible.
  • When crossing a street, look left, right and left.
  • Listen for the sound of car motors, sirens, horns or emergency announcements before stepping into the street.

10. Where can I find information about Metro/ORCA?

Please see the Metro website at metro.kingcounty.gov/alerts/snow for their snow routes.

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