Helena-area public schools remain open during cold snap

Helena School District
Posted at 3:13 PM, Dec 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-21 08:16:43-05

HELENA — Helena Public Schools announced Tuesday that they, East Helena and Montana City will remain open during the cold snap on Wednesday, Dec. 21 and Thursday, Dec. 22. Temperatures are anticipated to be well below zero.

“As we prepare for a cold snap to move through the Helena Valley tomorrow and Thursday, the district has worked in close coordination with the Montana Highway Patrol, Lewis and Clark County Public Works, and our own facilities team to ready our schools and buses,” wrote HPS in a letter to parents.

Helena Public Schools said their reason to remain open is to provide a service to the community. They noted staying open allows parents of health care providers, emergency response services, government workers and other essential roles to continue to provide those services without needing to worry about child care during standard school hours.

“Our schools offer a warm and secure environment, hot meals, and supervised indoor recess. Breakfast and lunch will be served as usual, and the SACC (School Age Child Care) program will also operate as usual for elementary students who are enrolled in the program.”

The school district notes that some families may choose to keep their students home and there will likely be disruptions to bus routes because of the weather. Parents should notify the school if their child will not be attending. Staff will make follow-up calls Wednesday and Thursday morning on unplanned absences to ensure that all students are safe.

The outlying routes to Birdseye (Bus 24); Silver City (Buses 15 & 25); Rimini (Bus 16); and Grizzly Gulch (Bus 10) are canceled for tomorrow morning, Dec. 21. All other bus routes will operate, but delays are expected. All bus routes will operate as normal tomorrow afternoon, including all outlying routes (Birdseye, Silver City, Rimini and Grizzly Gulch).

Parents should not allow children to wait at bus stops unattended. Temperatures will be dangerous for anyone outside.

There is also a potential for bus route cancelations on Thursday morning, Dec. 22, as temperatures bottom out.

“If you rely on bus service, please make alternate plans in the event your route is canceled. A rapid warm-up is expected to begin later Thursday morning, and all bus routes are expected to run as usual again on Thursday afternoon.”

Schools will open early Wednesday and Thursday morning for drop-offs.

A few additional reminders of Helena Schools cold-weather protocols:

  • We ask that no students walk home when temperatures are below zero.
  • Please do not leave children unattended at bus stops in severe cold or snow.
  • In subzero temperatures, students who ride the bus will be kept inside until their bus is in place.
  • In subzero temperatures, students who are dropped off by parents will be brought inside as soon as buildings open (see opening times below).
  • After school, students will be supervised for quick pick-ups outside and then brought back inside to await late arrivals.
  • All schools will hold indoor recess on Wednesday and Thursday.
  • While students will not play outdoors, please dress your student and yourself appropriately to safely commute to and from school and work. Wear at least three layers as well as a hat, gloves and warm, waterproof boots.

Helena Public Schools - School opening schedule for Dec. 21 & 22

All Elementary - 7:45 a.m.
Enter your school through the main front door.

Helena Middle School - 7:15 a.m.
Enter through the cafeteria door.

C. R. Anderson - 7:15 a.m.
Enter your school through the entrance you normally use.

Capital High School - 7 a.m.
Enter through the main front door.

Helena High School - 6:50 a.m.
Use any main entry.