Cold, Snowy Weather Strategies

The decision to close or delay the start of school due to severe weather is made prior to 6AM. Unless you hear an announcement over local TV and radio stations that schools are closed or delayed, you can assume that school will be in session as scheduled. Your coopera­tion in not calling stations or schools regarding possible closure is appreciated.

All families, especially those with elementary age students, should have a contingency plan for their children in the event of weather-related school closings or two hour late start.

How Is the Decision Made?

  • Duluth school district transportation personnel are up at 3:30AM checking National Weather Service re­ports, and on the road by 4:00AM personally check­ing conditions.
  • They consult with transportation managers from Proc­tor, Hermantown and Superior school districts and with the bus contractor. They may also consult with the police department, MinnDOT, highway patrol, plus city and county departments that handle plowing.
  • The transportation managers from Duluth, Supe­rior, Proctor and Hermantown generally consult with the superintendents and make a decision whether or not to close or delay school by 5:00AM. Mak­ing a decision later than 5:00AM is difficult – district school buses begin to hit the road by about 6:00AM, and the longer school districts wait to make a deci­sion, the more difficult it is for parents to plan their day, i.e. daycare, childcare and latchkey.

Duluth schools rarely dismiss early, and recent parent and staff survey results indicate concerns about using early dismissal, including access to last minute child­care and sending young children home to an empty house. During severe weather, parents always have the option of picking their children up early from school.

Please know that when it comes to winter weather, we encourage and strongly support you in making the decision that is best for your child.  You are the best judge of your child’s health and safety. The school board and administration realize that their decision for the majority of students may not fit with your individual circumstances. As long as you contact the school to report the absence, a decision to keep your child home or pick up your child early from school for safety reasons will be considered excused. If the absence is not reported to the school, it will be considered unexcused.
How is the announcement communicated?
  • ISD 709 Website:
  • Television: KBJR – TV6, KDLH – TV3, WDIO-TV10, KQDS-TV21
  • Radio: KDAL 610 AM – 95.7 FM, WEBC 560 AM, WSCN 100.5 FM, KQDS 1490 AM – 94.9 FM
  • Duluth News Tribune Website:
  • Twitter: @Duluth_Schools
  • Facebook:

Two Hour Late Starts may include an All Call phone message to families.

School Closing

  • K-12 Schools are closed for the entire day.
  • K-12 activities and athletics are cancelled for the day (except participation in sectional or state tour­naments, unless cancelled by event officials)
  • Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE) classes are can­celled.
  • Preschool classes are cancelled.
  • KEY Zone is cancelled
  • Afternoon and evening Community Education activities are cancelled

Two Hour Late Start

  • K-12 Schools start two hours later and dismiss at their regular times
  • Buses pick up students two hours later
  • Bus stops remain the same and cannot be changed
  • No school breakfast service
  • Before school KEY Zone cancelled
  • No impact on after school KEY Zone.
  • ECFE classes sched­uled to start prior to 9:45AM are cancelled
  • Afternoon and evening Community Education pro­grams and community/organization permitted activi­ties will be held as scheduled
  • Preschool classes will start two hours later and dismiss at their regular time
  • K-12 afternoon activities and athletics will be held

Rural Buses On Plowed Roads Only Announcement

When severe snows hit rural areas and not urban Duluth areas, the District may issue an announcement that for safety reasons rural school buses are running on plowed roads only. This announcement will be made via the same communication channels that announce whether schools are open or delayed including TV, radio and web­sites. The announcement will look/sound like this:

“Duluth Public Schools are open –

Rural buses on plowed roads only.”

That means school buses in rural areas will perform their routes as close to normal as possible on roads that are plowed. Schools will be open for the day.

Families who live on rural roads that are not plowed that morning have choices: 1) Keep their student home for safety reasons and call their school to report the ab­sence, which is excused or 2) Transport students to and from school themselves.

This approach will provide an opportunity for educa­tion to continue for most students and at the same time maintain safe school bus travel.

What is considered a “rural” area?

  • Between Rice Lake and Howard Gnesen Roads: Everything north of and including Norton Road.
  • Between Howard Gnesen Road and Woodland Avenue: Everything north of Calvary Road.
  • Jean Duluth Rd: Everything north of Everett Street.
  • Lester River Rd: Everything north of the intersection with Superior Street.
  • North Shore Drive and the freeway: Everything north and east of the intersection with Superior Street.

Does “rural buses on plowed roads only” apply any time it snows?  No, only to situations involv­ing severe winter weather when, after closely checking road conditions, a decision is made by District officials to run rural buses on plowed roads only and the decision is announced through TV, radio, website and other communica­tion venues.

Can I take my student to school and have the school bus drop them off in the afternoon?  It’s best to plan on picking your student up after school. In the afternoon, buses will again travel only on plowed roads and there is no reliable means of verifying which rural roads will be plowed by dismissal.

How does this affect teachers/staff who live in rural areas?  Unlike closing school, a “plowed roads only” decision does not affect teachers or staff. Employees who live in affected areas are expected to come to school or, if they feel conditions are not safe to travel, they may stay home and take a personal day.

Cold Weather Guidelines
Elementary students are expected to go outside at noon recess under most weather conditions. In the winter, children should dress warmly and wear boots, snow pants, warm jackets, hats and mittens. Each school has systems to ensure children are dressed properly for outdoor play.
Principals are responsible for implementing cold weather guidelines for their school building. Staff will monitor outdoor conditions at 0 degrees and below to determine if students need to remain indoors because of cold air temperatures and/or wind speeds. Schools will not send children outdoors if the wind chill is –18 or less.
Schools are equipped with weather radios that inform staff of National Weather Service alerts:
  • CAUTIONARY Wind chills of -18 to –20 degrees
  • ADVISORY Wind chill of –25 degrees or below
  • WARNING Wind chill of –35 degrees or below
In addition, current conditions can be checked on the Internet at com or at the National Weather Service website