Severe Weather Preparedness and Response
Severe weather occurs throughout the year in North Texas and comes in many forms. As one of only a few Texas school districts designated as a StormReady® community by the National Weather Service (NWS), Frisco ISD campuses and departments have received significant training regarding real-time situational awareness and protective actions needed when severe weather has been forecasted or is imminent. The Frisco ISD Emergency Management Department ensures training content, procedural steps and emergency drills are aligned with standards established by the NWS. These standards allow FISD to appropriately prepare for, respond to and recover from severe weather incidents.
FISD routinely collaborates with NWS meteorologists and local emergency management officials from the cities of Frisco, Plano, McKinney and Town of Little Elm to gather and share information when a potential weather emergency is likely.
Snow & Ice
To ensure situational awareness when winter weather is forecast, the Frisco ISD Emergency Management Department monitors scheduled overnight briefing calls hosted by the local National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office. At the conclusion of these pre-dawn NWS coordination calls, a weather briefing is then provided to District leadership regarding the latest forecast data. During this briefing, emergency management and first responder officials from local municipalities are provided an opportunity to report on current street conditions, which enables real-time decision making in regards to any potential winter weather closures.
A number of factors are considered by the District leadership team when making a decision to close or delay the opening of FISD campuses:
The safety of students, staff and parents;
The ability of FISD buses to access neighborhood streets and safely transport students to and from school;
The potential for workday disruptions related to last-minute child care arrangements; and
Closure decisions by adjacent school districts.
Once hazardous winter weather travel conditions on neighborhood streets and major thoroughfares have been confirmed, a decision regarding a closure or delayed opening will be made by 5:30 a.m. This information will then be directly shared with parents and staff in a number of ways.
Thunderstorms & Tornadoes
The Frisco ISD Emergency Management Department receives severe weather alerts, including watch and warning information, from the local National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office. Before a severe weather incident occurs, the NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) issues severe weather forecast information using risk category levels to help the public better understand the threat.
When the SPC issues a forecast indicating severe weather conditions are likely or expected, the Frisco ISD Emergency Management Department serves as the liaison between the District and outside emergency management agencies and NWS meteorologists. SPC severe weather forecast information, once published by NWS, is distributed to Frisco ISD leadership personnel, including FISD campus administrators and departmental supervisors. These staff ensure appropriate campus-level and facility-level monitoring and necessary protective actions based on the watch and warning information.
Shelter-in-Place actions are immediately implemented when a NWS-issued Tornado Warning is issued for the campus location, or when a local jurisdiction activates outdoor warning sirens due to the presence of severe hail or straight-line winds that exceed preset jurisdictional alerting criteria. Shelter-in-Place actions are also implemented when a Severe Thunderstorm Warning has been issued for storm cells with “destructive” damage characteristics, which mimic a tornado.
Shelter-in-Place involves moving students, staff and visitors to the safest possible pre-designated locations, which varies by campus. Any parents in vehicles queued for arrival or dismissal will be invited inside to seek shelter. Due to time considerations and urgent protective actions needed during a weather emergency, parents will not be able to check students out or join their students’ designated shelter areas. Once the weather emergency has passed and the severe weather warning has expired, the campus will return to normal operations.
Transportation & Dismissal
Bus routes may be disrupted during severe weather warnings. Buses will not complete routes until a severe weather warning has expired and danger has passed. Delayed delivery of students is possible once normal bus operations have resumed. If buses are already running when a severe weather warning is issued, drivers are trained to seek the nearest shelter area. This includes field trips and routine student transportation, and the District will provide notices when buses are delayed due to severe weather.
FISD will not release school early due to the threat of severe weather. Students are safest within the school facility, and Frisco ISD won’t release students without a guardian in advance of or during severe weather conditions. Parents have the option to withdraw students prior to dismissal if the school is not actively experiencing severe weather conditions or after a Shelter-in-Place activation for a severe weather warning has been implemented.
Please note: The Frisco ISD Emergency Management Department actively monitors NWS severe weather warnings issued within the District’s boundaries. However, due to the geographic size of FISD and the variability of weather conditions within the District, campus administrators make individualized emergency decisions based upon localized NWS warnings, storm cell direction of travel and speed and any weather alerts issued by local jurisdictions. Similarly, campus administrators exercise discretion as to when to release walkers, bike riders and student drivers once the weather emergency has passed. Campus-based decisions may vary from school to school since decisions are based on real-time conditions at each location.
Frisco ISD has been awarded the National Weather Service (NWS) StormReady® designation, one of only seven school districts in Texas.
As a StormReady district, the NWS recognizes that FISD has demonstrated and documented a commitment to severe weather preparedness.
StormReady helps community leaders and emergency managers strengthen local safety programs. Frisco ISD is recognized for its preparation to save lives from the onslaught of severe weather through advanced planning, education and awareness.
To be officially StormReady, the District had to:
Establish a 24-hour warning system partnership with an emergency operations center
Have more than one way to receive severe weather warnings and forecasts and to alert the District
Create a system that monitors weather conditions locally
Promote the importance of severe weather readiness through seminars
Develop a formal hazardous weather plan, which includes training and exercises
The District must renew in three years to ensure it continues to meet the National Weather Service standards.
While the recognition does not make the District storm proof, it indicates that Frisco ISD is armed with the communication and safety skills needed to save lives and property -- before, during and after an incident. Click here to learn more about the StormReady designation.