Parents react to new Dayton schools two-hour delay policy

For the first time in several years, Dayton Public Schools is joining other local school districts in using two-hour weather delays when “the weather pattern is uncertain,” according to district officials. Previously the district had either been open for the full day or totally closed.

Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said in a November letter that the goal is “to provide as much instructional time as possible during the coming winter months.” DPS spokeswoman Tracey Hanlin said the district’s previous system of school start times and bus routes had made it “logistically impossible” to do two-hour delays.

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“We made improvements in the (bus) routing system that allows us to add a two-hour delay,” Hanlin said. “We understand it may be an inconvenience for some families, but our focus is on students attending, learning, and succeeding. A two-hour delay means students come to school and learn, even if it’s compressed for the day.”

Dayton Public Schools had its first two-hour delay on Wednesday, and social media reaction was mixed. Many parents said they were confused or surprised, saying they had not seen the district’s November letter explaining the switch.

People posting on the district’s Facebook page debated whether the district should have closed outright because of icy conditions, asked for clarification on busing procedures and pickup times, and questioned whether the notification system was working properly. District officials responded regularly on the page, answering questions about delay days.

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• All DPS schools will still offer breakfast and lunch on delay days.

• Older students’ RTA bus passes, which normally work in the morning only until 9 a.m., will be functional longer.

• Morning preschool will be canceled, but afternoon preschool will have a normal schedule.

• Field trips during the school day will be canceled, but after-school trips will be re-assessed later in the day.

• Schools will dismiss for the day at the normal time.

Lolli’s letter said DPS will try to make its decision to delay school no later than 5:30 a.m. Hanlin said the information is immediately posted to social media and shared with local media, and automated notifications go out to students’ families. DPS encouraged families to make sure they are signed up for notifications with their current contact information.

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“Safety is our highest priority, and Dayton Public Schools strives to make the best possible decision with the information available at the time,” Lolli’s letter said. “Parents/guardians can always choose to keep their children home if they truly feel there is a weather-related safety risk.”

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