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Recap: Winter weather decisions are a comprehensive, team effort

Students sit in snow(03/29/2024) In a recent winter weather event impacting school operations across the district Monday, March 25, 2024 — text message notifications were sent to all staff members districtwide who had subscribed to receive text message alerts. 

At this time, just over half — 52% of Anoka-Hennepin employees — have updated communication preferences in Skyward to receive emergency notifications via text message. These messages will include weather closings and delays, school emergencies and other important notices.

Verify that you are subscribed: From the Skyward employee access screen, select the “update phone number” icon and follow the on-screen instructions. Detailed instructions are provided for those who need them. Subscribers can opt out of the text messages by responding STOP to any message sent by the system.

For technical support: Email or call 763-506-HELP (4357). For more details, visit the Anoka-Hennepin Schools communications webpage to view important reminders.

Learn how weather-related decisions are made 

The decision to cancel school is a serious one and the district utilizes a variety of information sources to guide these decisions. Please understand that it is always the first choice of the district to hold school. When school is canceled, the district aims to provide staff and families as much time as possible to plan for child care or transportation needs they may have as a result.

The big picture: Due to the size and complexity of the district’s transportation system and the variety and range of weather that can be experienced across the district, many factors contribute to making a decision about school operations when weather events occur. 

How it works: The decision to modify school operations involves a number of staff members from different departments working as a team to review a variety of information sources, including:

  • Data shared by the National Weather Service including warnings, webinar briefings and forecasts by geographic area and by hour, including:
    • temperature,
    • wind chill,
    • wind speed,
    • precipitation type,
    • snow and ice accumulation.
  • District staff drive the roads across the district in the early morning hours to evaluate and experience actual conditions to guide a decision. 
    • Consider abilities for safe travel by bus, personal vehicle and on foot.
    • Consider bus stops and walking paths.
    • Review and consult on the plowing progress of main roads and side streets.
  • Consultation with neighboring districts.
    • While the district researches the ability to safely hold school locally, connections are made with neighboring districts to inform nearby weather conditions.
    • At this time, the district does not have an official process to hold e-learning days.
    • Due to the size of Anoka-Hennepin, the transportation system cannot support a “late start” or “two-hour delay” like other districts. 

When it matters: Making an informed and timely decision is important to make the best decision in the interest of the safety of students and staff. Much of this work is being done the evening prior and in the early morning hours. The team takes all factors and information available to make a decision in a condensed time frame so that families and staff can be notified as soon as a course of action is known.

Dig deeper: The district has compiled safety tips for cold weather, bus stops and FAQs. View them all at