It may seem like the easiest thing in the world...calling a snow day. When I was a teacher I would second-guess our Superintendent regularly, never thinking he/she quite made the right call. Oh how the tables have turned, as they often do, and how little I knew then about how the decisions are made. This post, hopefully, will help provide some clarity on the topic...though it will probably not make the calls any better!
School districts do have a certain number of days built into the calendar, in case of bad weather, to prevent making the school year longer every time we have to take a day off. Schools on a four day school week have very few of these extra days built into the calendar.
When snow is predicted, several of the staff members at the school district are actively engaged in monitoring the snow possibilities. Here are the general steps we take, and the timing we use, to call for a delay of school, or a school cancellation:
- Staff is up early and driving roads to ascertain conditions...always by 5am, usually earlier.
- Because school buses leave as early as 5:30am, we target our initial decision by that time each morning. If we have a significant snow event by this time, or if the road crews are not keeping up with the falling snow, we may call a delay or cancellation.
- Once the buses are on the road, we are having a regular school day...at least at the start of the day. This happened last year, where the snow started after the buses had already left the transportation building...at this point, it is not safe to return students home, as many of them could be stranded without a parent present.
- As the day progresses, we continue to monitor snow and conditions. Of course, we hope for a clearing...like we had today. While it snowed all day, the roads were clear and safe by the end of school. If it looks like the conditions will not improve, or that they may worsen, we may try to find a time in the middle of the day, where it could be safest to get students home. In this case, we try to give parents plenty of notice that their child will be coming home. This is definitely not the best case scenario, and we try to avoid early dismissal at all cost. Last year, we sent students home in the middle of the day, because high wind and blowing snow was predicted to be extra bad at the regular dismissal time. As is usually the case in Colorado, predictions were wrong.
I have lived in Colorado most of my life, and the rapid changes in weather still amaze me at times. We will do our best to make a good decision, but I am certain we will get it wrong sometimes. Thankfully, parents still have full control over whether or not their children attend school on these types of days. If you think it is unsafe to send your student to school...please keep them home. Just give us a call, and we will gladly excuse the absence due to poor weather conditions.
I'm not sure about you all, but I am ready for Summer...but we need the moisture...so, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! And then let it get warm real fast!!