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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — As winter wears on in Western Pennsylvania, more school delays and closings are bound to happen.
But where should parents turn when dealing with a last minute school delays or cancellations? What about child care?
Experts say the first thing parents should do, is to make sure you know how your school alerts you if there is a delay or a closure.
Be sure you know your school’s policies and procedures.
For example, Pittsburgh Public Schools has an entire page on their website dedicated to school delays and cancellations.
The Director of Transportation confers with the weather bureau, the Chief Operations Officer and the District’s bus companies, including the Port Authority about weather forecasts, available energy for heating the buildings and area road conditions. The administrators report the findings to the Superintendent who makes the final decision to have a 2-hour delay or close schools.
Two local moms have also created a special website because of their own frustrations and needs for flexible child care.
Priya Amin and Jessica Strong started the free service called Flexable, at FlexableCare.com. Think of it like Airbnb, but for connecting parents and caregivers.
Here’s how it works:
Parents and caregivers go to the website and fill out a profile. Parents write their needs, and caregivers write their availability. Technology does the rest.
“Based on the criteria, the system can match the parent with the caregiver and hopefully help them find the care they need,” Amin said.
Right now, most of the caregivers on the site are smaller, in-home caregivers like Danielle Tharp. She runs Family Tree Daycare out of her home in Murrysville. Like many other in-home daycares and some nannies and sitters, she can watch kids on snow days or delays, holidays, at the last-minute and even when kids are sick and the parents can’t miss work.
WATCH MORE ABOUT FLEXABLE HERE:
Flexable will also provide Pittsburgh employees with free childcare thanks to a city contract with Flexable.
No matter what, the experts say parents should have a child care back up plan just in case schools do close, or decide to close for several days at a time.
Another option for parents during school closings, JCC Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill or the South Hills.
JCC Pittsburgh says they offer programming and care when schools are closed for snow or inclement weather. Check them out by clicking here.
If you decide to take the day off to stay with your children, or you find yourself with your children due to a school cancellation, the experts have some ideas for you.
Barron Whited, a professional school counselor, recently stopped by Pittsburgh Today Live with some ideas on making the most of snow days!
CATCH UP ON SOME SLEEP
Whited says it doesn’t have to be all day, but catching up on sleep will lead to a lot less meltdowns, because you’re going to be entertaining children all day long.
School delays or cancellations will allow students to catch up on projects or homework they may not have finished. “It doesn’t have to be the whole day, but it’s a good chance to get a head start on something,” says Whited.
He also suggests study groups in your neighborhood. Students who may attend the same school could get together for a few hours to study and get some school work done.
Getting chores done and out of the way early can mean more free time to play outside the rest of the day. “Get your chore done right away, and then it will mean more time with your family or friends.”
Whited suggests playing games with your children, either indoor or outdoors. “Board games, arts and crafts will help you find out a lot about your child,” he says.
ENJOY THE EXTRA TIME
“This is the perfect opportunity for parents and kids, it’s all about making those memories,” Whited says.
Our partners at Kidsburgh also have some great ideas for parents who are looking for something to do with their kids while school is closed.
And since the weather is expected to be so cold, there’s also a list of 16 great indoor play spaces in Pittsburgh.