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Closing/Delaying school due to severe weather or emergencies


One of the major concerns of parents is what happens when schools are delayed or closed due to severe weather (snow, ice, flooding, hurricanes, etc.) or emergencies. The Hampton School Division has an Emergency Dismissal Plan which is immediately activated when severe weather threatens or an emergency is present.


kids playing in snow

school with snow

How is the decision made to close schools?
When severe weather is forecast, representatives from the HCS Transportation Department road-test major thoroughfares and side streets across the city beginning at approximately 4 a.m. Input regarding road conditions is also obtained from the Hampton Police Division, and weather updates are monitored constantly.


Who makes the decision to close schools?
The superintendent of Hampton City Schools makes this decision. After receiving data and recommendations from the director of School Transportation, and considering the time and severity of the inclement weather, the superintendent makes a decision no later than 5 a.m. for schools to close, delay opening for 2 hours, or to open under the regular schedule. However, should we experience severe weather during the evening hours, a decision about school closing will be made in time to be announced on the 11 p.m. television news, and parents will be informed through our emergency messaging system as well.


How does the public learn about the decision?
As soon as a decision has been reached regarding school delays or closings, our communications staff goes to work to get the word out to the community. Information will be placed on social media. Follow us on Twitter (@HamptonCSchools), Facebook (@HamptonCSchools), and Instagram (Hampton_city_schools) page. Our telephone emergency messaging system will automatically dial the telephone numbers the division has on file to inform parents and staff.


In addition, our PEG-TV cable station will broadcast the message continuously across its screen on Cox Channel 46 and FIOS Channel 20, and the message will be placed on our school division’s website (www.hampton.k12.va.us). Information may also be obtained via the HCS switchboard, which can be accessed by calling 727-2000.


We also notify local television stations and the local newspaper of any closings or delays.

If school is delayed rather than closed, we will follow up with more communication as needed if the weather changes. 

NOTE: PLEASE do not call the individual schools, as this will tie up telephone lines.


What if weather worsens while school is in session?
Sometimes after the decision has been made to open schools, we may find that the weather has taken a turn for the worse. If weather conditions worsen while students are in school, our emergency messaging system will notify parents/guardians by telephone directly of the school division’s plans. In addition, the media will be informed of those plans as well. However, we have found that since many of our schools are designated as city shelters, school is often the safest place for students to be until our regular dismissal time has been reached. We urge parents to have a contingency plan developed for their child should an emergency develop and we have to institute an early dismissal.


What About Hurricanes?
Hurricane season begins June 1 and lasts until November 30, with our peak period being August and September. If a hurricane should threaten our area, the school division will be given specific direction by the City of Hampton’s Emergency Management Office. Of course, this information will be widely disseminated via the local media.


If we are able to remain in the area during the hurricane, several of our schools have been designated as city shelters. They are Bethel, Phenix and Andrews. These shelters will be opened as needed, and that decision will be made by the City’s Office of Emergency Management. For more information on hurricane preparedness, call the City’s 311 Call Center.