Good Morning Barrows Community!
I have had a few parents reach out to inquire about our indoor/outdoor determinations for drop-off (red flag days) and recess. I am glad to continue this conversation, as the safety of our students is always a priority. As principal, I am the one who determines the indoor/outdoor times. I have completed research around health recommendations from many health and government agencies to form our indoor/outdoor routines. Following the research, I identified the use of a reference chart which is recommended by the MA.gov Health and Human Services website. The temperature chart benchmarks were formed by a state agency through federal grant funds from the US Department of Health & Human Services, Health Resources & Services Administration, Maternal & Child Health Bureau with Wind-Chill and Heat Index information from the National Weather Service.
I took some time to follow up with my elementary principal colleagues to get clarification about their procedures and processes. What I have learned is that, although each of the schools do have different routines and structures due to their facilities/parking patterns/etc., we seem to be similarly on par when it comes to making outside weather decisions.
We do our best to support the healthy balance of outdoor play, fresh air, and physical movement along with limiting exposure to cold weather conditions. Here at Barrows we do our best to get students outside as often as possible - this means unless it is actively raining, thunder & lightening, or dangerous temperatures, we send students outside. Please send your child(ren) with appropriate outside clothing including hats, gloves, jackets, and warm socks/shoes, and assume they will be going out to recess.
My staff and I take time each morning to review the outdoor temperature as well as the wind speed to determine temperatures with the wind chill before making the call. (For example, this morning it was 26*, sunny with no precipitation, wind speed 6mph.) As our campus time for drop-off starts at 8:05 to 8:15, it would be (at the most) 10 mins. that students or parents would be outside before our initial bell rings during drop-off hours. Additionally, we allow for another 10 min. window (8:15-8:25) to provide ongoing time for drop offs to get to class on time and decreasing the window of time that students would have to wait outside. This meets all of the health recommendations that I have researched around maintaining student safety and well-being – valuing the importance outdoor time and fresh air, as well as limiting amount of exposure during cold weather days.
I invite you to reach out with any additional questions or concerns, as we all work to maintain a focus on safety for our students. I am always willing to meet to discuss anything as it relates to our students and their safety, so if you feel a meeting would be helpful, please let me know!
Enjoy a safe and relaxing winter break!
National Weather Service (NOAA) recommendations and information about Wind Chill and health concerns (please note on 2nd page, Windchill information): http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/cold/resources/wind-chill-brochure.pdf
Our Health Chart which is recommended by the MA.gov Health and Human Services website; https://www.ok.gov/health2/documents/weatherwatchforchildren2.pdf
We use this chart as a general guideline to determine indoor/outdoor recess and drop-off. Unless it is "in the red" we will stay outside as our times outside are typically 15 mins or less. Only when you see the red flag out front is it an indoor drop-off day.
Reminder: On "Red Flag" days students may begin to enter the building at 8:05am. Prior to this time doors will be locked. At 8:05 students may enter the building. Students in grades K-3 may enter through Door #16 (front of school by Gym) or Door #13 (blacktop entrance by Gym.) Students in grades 4 & 5 may also enter through Door #1 (Main office). You must buzz to enter on the indoor drop-off days.
Especially on those cold weather days please observe our traffic safety laws (no idling, no parking on the school-side of Edgemont Ave, active drop-off in the kiss & go lane only, etc.) to help ensure the safety of all of our students.