South Orangetown Central School District

In addition to the health and safety protocols in place for reopening, our schools are required to conduct bus, fire and lockdown drills to practice emergency preparedness. The New York State Education Department requires that drills be conducted with all in-person student cohorts (Groups A and B) and is allowing some procedures to be adapted in accordance with COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Our schools will communicate additional information about what their students, particularly remote learners, can expect during safety drills.

Due to the pandemic, the District is postponing the Emergency Dismissal Drill scheduled for November 25. This drill would require all transportation-eligible students to be bused home. Buses operating at 50% student capacity are unable to maintain passenger social distancing. In an actual emergency, the immediate safety and security of our students would be prioritized over social distancing guidelines.

For this reason, we strongly encourage families to become familiar with our Emergency Dismissal Drill procedures:

Emergency Dismissal Procedures

In the event of an actual emergency dismissal, the impacted school will close and all after school activities and evening events will be canceled.

All parent/guardian and emergency contacts listed in student records will receive SchoolMessenger email and robocall notification of an emergency dismissal the afternoon of the drill. Emergency dismissal information will also be posted on the district homepage. To protect the security of our students and staff, parents, students and staff members should not share information regarding District or school safety drills or procedures on social media.


  • All transportation-eligible students will be transported to their home bus stop according to what is designated on the student’s transportation file.
  • All walkers in grades K-8 are required to take their assigned afternoon bus. Only high school students who live within the 1.5-mile walk zone and are ineligible for transportation are permitted to walk.
  • WOS students must be met by a parent/guardian or bus designee at their designated bus stop. Students will not be returned to school for parent pick-up. To add a bus designee to your child’s record, please contact the Transportation Office at (845) 680-1662.
  • In the event of an actual emergency, all transportation-eligible high school students may be required to take the bus. Drivers may need to leave their vehicles at school.
  • Student pickups cannot be accommodated during an emergency dismissal.
  • Depending on the nature of an actual emergency, students may be evacuated to an alternative site rather than bused home. However, detailed information will be communicated to

Family Preparedness

Please update and practice your family emergency plan and take the following steps to prepare in the event of an emergency dismissal or a weather-related closing, delay or early dismissal:

  • Discuss the school emergency dismissal with your children. Parents of grades K-2 students, please make sure a plan is in place for an authorized person to receive your child at their designated bus stop.
  • Review your family emergency plan with your child. Make sure to cover the following:
    • Their bus number and bus stop location;
    • Who will meet them at their bus stop (WOS students only);
    • How they will get into your home (e.g., location of a hidden key, security code once they enter the home); and,
    • The names and numbers of who they need to call when they get home
  • Be sure to review your family emergency plan with those listed as emergency contacts in your child’s school record.
  • Add “” as an email contact and verify this address as a trusted sender.

Weather-Related Closings, Delays and Early Dismissals

  • The decision to close or delay school opening is made by 5:30AM.
  • Determinations are made according to conditions within the district. If weather conditions worsen or other situations arise during the school day, an early dismissal decision may be made.
  • Notifications for closings, delays and early dismissals are sent to staff and families via SchoolMessenger phone and email messages, and posted on the District homepage. They are also posted on the district Facebook (@southorangetowncsd) and Twitter (@southorangetown) feeds and submitted to the following media outlets:
    • Radio: WHUD/100.7 FM, WRCR/1700AM and WCBS/880 AM
    • Television: News12
  • Families are strongly encouraged to have a family emergency plan in place in the event that school is delayed, canceled or dismissed early.
  • Please keep in mind that even if school is not closed or delayed, transportation delays should be expected at times of extreme cold, ice, heavy rain and/or snow. Drivers are repeatedly instructed to drive at a speed appropriate for the prevailing road and/or weather conditions.
  • Delayed opening:
    • Start times are 10:30AM for SOMS and TZHS and 11:30AM for WOS and CLE
    • Lunch, but no breakfast, is served
  • Early dismissal:
    • Early dismissals may be scheduled (e.g., Superintendent’s Conference Days) or called in anticipation of inclement weather
    • Dismissal times are 11:30AM for SOMS and TZHS and 12:30PM for WOS and CLE
    • After-school activities and Continuing Education classes are canceled
    • Students are bused to their regular afternoon stops, including alternate sites. However, if the District is notified by a childcare provider that they are closing due to inclement weather, those students will be bused directly home.
    • Breakfast, but no lunch, is served

“The safety of our students and staff continues to be our top priority and requires continual emergency preparedness planning, practice and review,” notes Executive Director of Finance and Management Services Alicia Koster. “We have useful information and supports listed on our website. Please be sure to visit our Emergency Preparedness, Closings, Delays and Early Dismissals and our Safety webpages for this additional information.”