School day or snow day? Districts explain how they decide

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- When the weather outside is frightful, but learning is so delightful, the kids say, ‘let it snow' and the school administrators say, ‘let's still go'. But whether or not it's safe, how do they ever know?

FOX21 spoke with several Colorado Springs school districts about what factors are in mind when they decide to call off classes.

"Around about midnight we have a security team that goes out as well as some facilities crews that go out and drive from the north of our district to the south and east to the west," Devra Ashby, communications director and public information officer for School District 11, said.

When a storm is predicted to hit schools, officials are all keeping an eye on the forecast. What happens from there is a little different depending on the district.

"In District 49 we have a sort of hard cut off at -18 degrees on the wind chill because when the temperature and the wind combine to make it feel that cold you can get frost bite in as little as half an hour.," Matt Meister, director of communications at School District 49 said.

Crews watch for things such as how much snow fall is expected, blowing snow and wind chill. Both District 11 and 49 try to make a decision by 4:30 in the morning.

"Now if conditions have proven to be very severe the night before we've been known to cancel or delay school the night before," said Ashby. "We've also been known to delay school and then cancel school."

They said the last thing they want to do is let students out early.

"If we anticipate that snow, visibility, road conditions and temperatures are going to hit at some level during the day where it's just not safe for students and staff to be at school we'll make the proactive decision to close," Meister said.

Snow is tricky, and while one side of the district could see trace amounts of snow, the other might have several inches.

"When we have to cancel school we have to cancel it district wide so we want to make sure that we make the best choice based on the entire district and with our geographical location that's rather difficult," said Ashby.

If you just don't think it's safe for your student be out in these conditions, both District 11 and District 49 will respect those wishes.

"An absence would be excused and the teacher would work with that student to make sure that they had an opportunity to get the lesson and to make up the work that might be missed," Meister said.

"All the parent needs to do is call the main office and say that they won't be bringing their student in or that they'll be bringing their student in late," said Ashby.

You can always find out which schools are either cancelled or delayed by tuning in to FOX21 News or going to our website.


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