Dear Woodcliff Lake Families,
As Thanksgiving approaches, we are reminded that winter weather is just around the corner! The decision to delay the opening of school, dismiss early or close school due to weather conditions is never an easy one. Our priority is always the safety of the students and staff. While our goal is for the children to have uninterrupted and continuous instruction, safety must take precedence over all other considerations.
The arrival of snow, ice and frigid temperatures will impact all of us. In partnership with our Pascack Valley colleagues (Hillsdale, River Vale, Montvale, Pascack Valley High School District, Emerson, Park Ridge and Westwood), I am sharing the process that the Woodcliff Lake School District follows when deciding to call a school closure, delayed opening or early closing.
The Day Before an Impending Storm:
As the Superintendent of Schools, I begin by communicating with our School Business Administrator, Matthew Lynaugh, to review multiple weather reports. We gather information and correspond with our Buildings and Grounds Supervisor, Ken Woods, and our transportation companies. We continue to track the weather as we increase our communication to include the Superintendents in the Pascack Valley. Although not commonplace, there may be circumstances when a school closing or delay will be made the evening before. However, school closures or delays are team decisions that are most often made between 5:00-5:30 a.m. the morning of a storm.
The Morning of a Storm:
On the morning of a storm, between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m., the weather reports are reviewed once again, data is gathered and conversations between the Superintendent, Business Administrator and the Buildings and Grounds Supervisor are held. Between 5:00-5:15 a.m., the Superintendents in the neighboring districts engage in a conference call to discuss the weather information gathered. It is at this time that we consider the options to remain open, delay, close or dismiss early. We try to make a final decision by 5:30 a.m. These decisions are taken seriously as they are very difficult to reverse once made.
Once the decision is made, transportation officials, the police and the crossing guards are notified. In addition, our DPW has been provided with a map of student bus routes which assists with clearing and salting protocols.
Our maintenance staff is informed of all decisions and automated telephone calls are sent from the PFA to our district families who chose the phone-call option. (Note: This will be the last year that we send a phone call message! All other notifications will remain in effect.) Text messages and e-mails are delivered to the families of students and staff who signed up for
One Call Now.
In addition, the District Website, School Facebook and School Instagram pages are updated.
If you have chosen to install the Woodcliff Lake School District Website app you will also be able to click on the notifications button to see our emergency message. In case that isn't enough, we also have a "pop-up" that will be displayed on the District Website in the event of a school closure. (Be sure you do not have a pop-up blocker enabled on your computer.)
Each and every decision is a difficult one. Our goal is to keep our students, families and staff safe while working to ensure an enriching day of learning for the children when school is open. The decision is made on the information and weather related data available to us at the time a decision must be made. This information is fluid and changes throughout the course of a weather event.
Woodcliff Middle School:
On delayed openings, please use the front entrance ONLY at WCMS as the side doors may not be open when students arrive.
One Call Now
We utilize the ONE CALL NOW emergency text and email system. We will test this system again on Wednesday, November 20th. If you do not receive the TEST message, please go to our website for directions to sign up for One Call Now.
Families are encouraged to monitor the weather and make plans for all scenarios that include a full day of school, no school, a delayed opening (10:00 a.m. start time) or an early dismissal. Having a plan in place will make for a less hectic morning or afternoon when faced with winter weather conditions.
Thank you for your continued support as we work to keep our staff and students safe. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly at
Lauren Barbelet and the Administrative Team
*A copy of this letter will be posted on the District website.