Snow and Emergency Routes

Ensuring the safety of the students we transport is our number one priority. Nearly every year we must delay the start of school, use emergency bus routes, or cancel school because snow or other poor weather conditions make roads unsafe. We encourage you to become familiar with the procedures followed during snow, inclement weather and emergencies.

How does the district decide whether to delay or close schools?

When the weather forecast calls for snow or storms, our transportation services team is continually assessing road conditions. We check weather forecasts and consult with the weather bureau. On mornings when there is snow or ice on the roads, we drive selected bus routes starting early in the morning to assess road conditions.

While conditions may be safe in some parts of the city, they may be unsafe in others. We take all of this into account when making a recommendation to the Superintendent. We base our decision on whether we believe we can transport students safely to and from school.

How will I know if and when school is delayed, canceled or if buses are running on snow/emergency routes?

We make announcements as early in the morning as possible, typically by 6:00 a.m. You can learn about school delays or closures in the following ways:

  • Tacoma Public Schools website 
  • Tacoma Public Schools Facebook page
  • School Messenger - this is the District's automated phone and email message system. Please check with your school to ensure your emergency contact information is up to date.
  • New media - TV and radio stations announce school delays and closures
  • - regional information network
What is an emergency or snow bus route, and how do I find the route for my student?

Emergency bus stops are designed to avoid areas where hazardous road conditions exist. Stops are located on main arterials. Buses will not travel on side streets when emergency stops are in effect. Emergency stops for every school are available on the All Bus Stops page and are indicated in red.

If the start of school is delayed, how do I determine the time of bus pick up?

Add the length of the delay to the time listed on the emergency route schedule. For example, if the emergency stop has a pick-up time of 8:10 a.m. and the district announces a two-hour delay, the new pick-up time will be 10:10 a.m.

If emergency stops are in effect in the morning, where will students be dropped off after school?

After school we return students to their regular (not emergency) stop if at all possible. However, if road conditions are still hazardous, we will drop students off at their emergency stop. This information will be posted on the district website, and you will receive an automated phone and/or email message.

My student receives special education bus service. What do I need to know about snow routes?

Door-to-door service for students receiving special education services will continue, provided the bus is able to make the home stop. If it is not safe getting to the regular stop, your bus driver will provide you with information regarding where your stop will be located. For additional information, call the special education transportation department at 253.571.1855.   

How should I prepare my student to ride the bus during inclement weather?

We make every attempt to keep to our pick-up schedule, but delays may occur with snow and icy roads. Students should be dressed warmly (coat, hat, gloves, waterproof boots or shoes) in case they need to wait at their stop for the bus to arrive. - Tacoma School District