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Getting the message about school closings

Crowding around the radio at break of day?

That’s so 1980s.

Nowadays, students and parents find out about school closings, cancellations, dismissals and delays in much more up-to-date ways:

Online, and through social media.

There are also automated calls to the phones of school district families – and emails, too.

“Social media closes the circle of communication,” said Bret Apthorpe, superintendent of schools in the Frontier Central School District in the Southtowns.

Apthorpe acknowledged one humorous element of that sort of new interaction.

Students tend to make their views known on the weather situations and school days, he said.

“They lobby for snow days online,” said Apthorpe, with a laugh.

A look around at school districts in the Buffalo area late Monday showed that:

On the website of the East Aurora Union Free School District, on Monday evening a notice on the home page told viewers that “All after school and evening activities are cancelled” for that district.

Eden residents could check out the homepage for the Eden Central School District, which offered a posting about the weather and school schedules.

The Eden note said that school was cancelled for Monday and that after-school events were also not going to take place.

“This cancellation does include all parent/teacher conferences scheduled for this afternoon,” the Eden bulletin online read. “Your building principal will contact you to reschedule.”

Social media was also a way of reaching out.

Through Twitter, the Southtowns school superintendent – Apthorpe in Frontier Central – let people know that plans had changed due to the bad weather and snow on Monday.

Apthorpe tweeted messages during the day, including this one:

“Frontier has cancelled all after school activities due to likelihood of a lake effect snow band moving northward into our district this PM.”

Along with this update to families in Frontier:

“Pretty quiet around our district. Roads are clear but some are slippery so please drive slow and careful this morning.”

The Buffalo Public Schools also use multiple ways of reaching families with updates related to school schedules and closings. A district webpage said that updates are posted online, and calls are also made. (

In Frontier, Apthorpe listed five different ways of reaching out to families about cancellations and other schedule updates – Twitter, Facebook, email, robocalls, and updates to the district’s website.

He said automated calls are still a tool of reaching families and students. “It’s easy – it takes 10 seconds to do a robocall,” said Apthorpe, who added that the calls are a modest expense for the district.

The Frontier superintendent said that the best ways of reaching different families varies.

Lots of people rely on social media for this kind of update, said Apthorpe.

“But, we’re responsible for 100 percent of our kids,” he said.