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School Delays & Closings

The Process

On inclement weather days, including snow, ice or flooding conditions, the WCPS transportation director and staff travel designated inclement weather routes that are representative of some of the critical areas for safe school bus travel throughout the county. During the inclement weather routes, the director of transportation communicates with the county roads department, state highway administration and other surrounding counties’ school directors of transportation as to the conditions in the neighboring areas. After reviewing local information and the DTN Satellite Weather Service information, the director of transportation contacts the superintendent to recommend changes in school status, as needed. Final determination is normally made prior to 5:30 a.m. with media notifications occurring prior to 6 a.m. Depending on specific weather situations, the timeline may be earlier or later. The primary consideration for delay or closure decisions is the safety of students traveling to and from school.

Zone Closing Options

Since the 2001-2002 school year, WCPS has implemented two specific weather zones. The two zones are the Hancock Weather Zone and the Cascade Weather Zone. These areas typically experience greater inclement weather than the majority of the county. These zones may be delayed or closed separately from the rest of the county.

The Cascade Zone is defined as being the attendance area for Cascade Elementary School. Students who live in the Cascade Elementary attendance area and attend Cascade Elementary, Smithsburg Middle School or Smithsburg High School will follow any schedule changes that apply to the Cascade Zone. Students who live in the Old Forge Elementary, Smithsburg Elementary and Greenbrier Elementary attendance areas and attend one of these elementary schools, or Smithsburg Middle or Smithsburg High School are NOT included in the Cascade Zone. More specific information, including a road list in the Cascade Zone, is included in a 3-page PDF HERE. The Hancock Zone is defined as being the attendance area for Hancock Elementary School and Hancock Middle/Senior High School.

Other Emergencies

In addition to school delays or closings due to inclement weather, including snow, ice, flooding, or heat, the superintendent may determine the need to close a school, schools, or the school system based on other emerging situations (power outages, etc.). In the event of a school closing or delay, parent notification will occur using area media and the school system's website.


Notification Outlets

Notifications are available on the WCPS website, through e-mail, text message, messages on the WCPS main phone line at 301-766-2800 and through local media. NOTE: Weather related delays and cancellations will be reported on the main phone line as soon as decisions are reached.  If you hear the general greeting, there is nothing to report. Parents and staff should monitor the following notification outlets for information about school closings or delays. In case of a break-down in the communication plan due to power outages or other technical difficulties, parents and staff should familiarize themselves with more than one source for this information.

  • Radio: WJEJ/1240 AM, WCRH/90.5 FM, WQCM/94.3 FM, WIKZ/95.1 FM, WAYZ/104.7 FM, WFYN/101.5 FM, WPPT/92.1 FM, WARK/1490 AM, WWEG/106.9 FM, WLTF/97.5 FM, WICL/ 95.9, WFMD/930 AM, WFRE/99.9 FM, WDHC/92.9 FM, WCST/1010 AM, WKGO/106.6, WCBC/1270 AM, WKZG/107.1 FM
  • Television: WHAG/Hagerstown, WRC/Washington, WUSA/Washington, WBAL/Baltimore
  • Antietam Cable: Channel 99
  • Website:
  • WCPS Central Office Main Line: 301-766-2800
  • Espanol: 301-766-8500

Connect 5

WCPS continues to offer text messaging as an option for you to receive emergency communications. As of the 2014-2015 school year, our notification program is called Connect 5 and gives WCPS more flexibility in communicating with parents and the community, and will give parents more control over how to receive their notifications. WCPS will use Connect 5 in the form of phone calls, emails and text messages to communicate school delays, closings, early dismissals, other emergency situations and a variety of system and school-related announcements. Here is an important change for the 2014-2015 school year:

For members of the community who do not have a child or children in Washington County Public Schools, please visit in order to sign up for school delay and closing text messages.
For parents who have a child or children in the school system, a portal is available at that already has cell phone numbers posted for receiving text messages, but also allows parents to manage additional contact information. Parents of WCPS students are advised to contact your child(ren)'s school(s) and confirm that updated cell and other phone numbers, and email addresses are updated.

WCPS Employees

The chart below shows the color codes that will be used when inclement weather or other circumstances cause a change in work schedules:

Employee inclement weather codes

*ESP employees, please refer to section 6.11 of the negotiated agreement, entitled Inclement Weather.