Seattle Public Schools

Preparing for Winter Weather

Summary: Seattle Public Schools is actively monitoring weather forecasts and road conditions.

Winter Weather Preparation

When winter weather arrives in Seattle, SPS must determine schedule changes for the entire district. We recognize this decision may not always fit with what individual neighborhoods are experiencing. The city of Seattle has a wide variation of weather conditions because of our landscape.  

Ensuring students have devices in case of remote learning: When inclement weather is forecasted in Seattle, the SPS operations team works with our schools to implement their device distribution plan to ensure all students bring home devices.

Schools receive notice in the days before winter weather hits to remind them to send home student laptops and devices with students in case we need to switch to remote learning.

Winter Weather Preparation Tips

  • Make sure your contact information is updated with your student’s school
  • Set message preferences in SchoolMessenger to receive inclement weather and emergency communications.
  • If your student receives transportation services, check their bus snow routes.
  • Allow extra time in the morning to get to get to school in the morning.
  • Wear bright clothing so drivers can see you in the early morning and late evening.
  • Dress for the cold weather. Bundle up to stay warm with hats, gloves, and boots.
  • Walk on the sidewalk or a safe walking path. When possible walk facing traffic.
  • Watch for traffic while walking.
  • Keep your balance by walking with your hands out of your pockets, and keep items secured away in your pockets or bag.

Winter Weather School Schedule Options

If snow or ice in the Seattle area affects road conditions, our schools may have schedule changes. Student and staff safety is a priority when making decisions related to inclement weather.

Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association have created a plan to use technology and remote learning instruction so students can continue to learn from home during inclement weather/snow days. 

Based on weather conditions, we have two possible scenarios – two-hour late start with in-person learning or school buildings closed with students at home engaged in remote learning

 Two-hour late start with in-person learning 

Scenario 1: Two hours late; buses operating on snow routes. When the district is operating on snow routes (two-hour delay) the following changes apply. 

  • Childcare: Please check with your childcare provider for before or after school care.
  • Preschool:
    • Full day preschool, SPP, and Head Start are running.
    • All half-day preschool programs are closed including Head Start and Developmental Preschool.
    • Preschool Continuum of Intensive Services (PCIS) Preschool programs are closed.
  • Skills Center (high school students enrolled in Skills Center classes):
    • Morning Skills Center classes are canceled.
    • Afternoon Skills Center classes are running, but no district yellow bus transportation is provided to class. After classes are dismissed, transportation back to the student’s enrolled school will be provided.
  • After school activities without transportation: Check with your school about athletics and after school activities that don’t require transportation.

Please check the Transportation Department’s Adverse Weather webpage for details about transportation services. In early December, families with students who receive transportation services (yellow bus or van) will receive a separate letter in the mail with information about the snow routes for their student’s bus route. 

King County Metro may also operate snow routes during a snow or ice event. Students that use King County Metro to get to school can view Metro’s snow route information

School buildings closed with students at home engaged in remote learning

Scenario 2: Students at home engaged in remote learning due to inclement weather.

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) and Seattle Education Association (SEA) worked together to create a remote instruction plan for potential snow days. We cannot predict or control the weather, but we can maximize our response to it. Technology provides a way to engage with students even when winter weather makes it unsafe to go to school buildings.  

On the first day of remote instruction due to weather, there will be a two-hour delayed start. This late start will ensure staff and students are ready to begin learning. If there are consecutive days of inclement weather, the following days will begin at the standard start time. 

Remote learning plan when school buildings are closed due to inclement weather 

Families will receive communication from the district if we have a two-hour delay or are switching to remote learning. Families will also receive communication from your student’s school with more information about how the school day will look if we have a remote learning day. 

On the first day of remote instruction due to weather, there will be a two-hour delayed start. This late start will ensure staff and students are ready to begin learning. If there are consecutive days of inclement weather, the following days will begin at the standard start time. 

SPS Student Devices  

Every student has access to an SPS device (laptop for older students or iPads for younger grades).

For our elementary students who may not be bringing SPS devices to and from school on a regular basis, staff will prepare student devices to be sent home before inclement weather events.  

Families in need of internet access at home should apply to the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

FAQ Remote Learning due to Inclement Weather

What if there is a power outage?   

If an entire school community is impacted by a power outage, the district may call an emergency closure of an individual school. 

What will the school day schedule look like?

The school will follow the same schedule as on a typical full-length school day. On the first day of remote instruction due to weather, however, there will be a two-hour late start in order to ensure that staff and students are ready to begin learning. After that, the regular school schedule will be followed.

Do schools need to provide chargers with student devices? 

Your student should have a charger along with their SPS device. It is important to keep track of the charger as it will not be replaced if lost.

Will meals be served at SPS sites? 

Because road conditions are generally considered unsafe during inclement weather, meals will not be served in buildings during weather-related closures. 

Schools are encouraged to consider ways to support students in advance of inclement weather when possible. This support may look similar to supports provided to families during extended breaks such as winter break. 

Stay Informed

If weather conditions make a schedule change necessary, the SPS Communications team will share the schedule change in the following ways.  

Families will be notified at approximately 5 a.m. on the morning of a weather event through phone voice messages, emails, and text messages. Updates will also be shared with local media stations, on social media, and the district and school websites. 

SPS will notify families if there is a schedule change. Our standard practice is to assume that school buildings are open and buses are running on a regular schedule unless otherwise communicated.

Local Media

  • Local TV stations: KOMO 4, KING 5, KIRO 7, FOX 13 
  • Radio: KNWN AM 1000 (formerly KOMO), KIRO 97.3 FM 

District Social Media: Facebook SeattlePublicSchools , Instagram SeattlePublicSchools, and Twitter @SeaPubSchools

District and School Websites: We post school schedule updates to the district and school websites.

Email to parents, guardians, and staff.  

Phone voice message and text message to parents and guardians. 

Managing Phone Calls and Communication Preferences

Families receive phone messages, email, and text messages to the contact information on file with their student’s school. If you are not receiving communications from SPS, we may not have your correct contact information. Directions on how to manage your preferences. 


A note from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) 

During a severe snowstorm, SDOT crews work 24 hours a day to clear crucial streets around the city for buses and emergency services. We can’t be everywhere at once, and it may take up to 12 hours to clear all these streets after a break in the storm.   

Please be a good neighbor and help keep Seattle moving this winter! Stock up on snow removal supplies and keep the sidewalk, curb ramps, and storm drains near your home, business, or job site free of leaves, snow, and ice.   

Visit SDOT’s winter weather webpage for snow route maps and more tips on how to prepare.   

View this message from SDOT in: አማርኛ • اَلْعَرَبِيَّةُ • 繁体字 • 简体中文 • ភាសាខ្មែរ • 한국어 • Oromiffa • русский язык • af-Soomaali • Español • Tagalog • ភាសាខ្ម • ትግርኛ • Tiếng việt • English

Other information from SDOT 

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