(SOUTHERN COLORADO) — As weather rolls into Southern Colorado, parents and students alike wait with bated breath to see if their schools will have a two-hour delay or be closing. So what goes into the choices to delay or close that districts have to make?

Widefield School District 3 (WSD3)

The website says, “Safety is our primary focus, and we do our best to make appropriate decisions about weather and travel conditions. There are several factors we take into consideration including road conditions, the amount of snow and ice, the weather forecast, temperatures, and wind chill. We try to make these decisions as early as possible with real-time information so your family can plan ahead.”

WSD3 will make decisions about delays, closures, or e-learning days by 5 a.m. and send a FlashAlert to the media. Notifications will be sent to staff, parents, and students who are signed up to receive them. Parents who keep their kids home will not have to worry about students being penalized but must call in their absence.

Academy School District 20 (ASD20)

ASD20’s website says, “The safety of students and staff are paramount in the decision to close or delay the start of schools. When making weather-related decisions, many factors are considered prior to closing or delaying the start of schools. The Chief Operating Officer receives real-time information from the Transportation, Facilities, Security, and Risk Management Departments to recommend closures and delayed starts for schools to the Superintendent.”

Here are some of the factors that go into the weather decision-making:

  • Receive up-to-the-minute weather updates from local weather consultants.
  • Consult with El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs regarding their road sanding plans.
  • Exchange vital information about weather and road conditions with neighboring school districts.
  • Consult with the U.S. Air Force Academy to determine if they are going to delay or close.
  • Drive the district streets to determine road conditions.
  • Can our school buses safely travel to and from school?
  • Will our students who walk to school encounter unsafe weather-related conditions and/or barriers?
  • Can our facilities team safely clear school campuses of ice and snow?
  • Are the temperatures, wind chill and visibility levels safe?
  • Will we be able to provide meals?
  • What is the forecast for later in the day?

District 49 (D49)

D49’s website says, “District 49 makes decisions to preserve student and adult safety during inclement weather… Each year as winter weather arrives, District 49 leaders implement a comprehensive process to monitor local conditions and decide weather delays or closure… Remember, every parent, based on local conditions, retains the right to decide when it’s unsafe to send their child to school.”

D49 encourages parents to make the final call where their child’s safety is concerned. The final call for delays, closures, or e-learning is made by 4:45 a.m. Parents with other questions can check out the website.

“As part of our standard operating procedures, every time D49 makes a decision about delaying or closing, we share the announcement and include our reasoning via email directly to our parents and our staff. We also share the same announcement on social media and post it on our website,” David Nancarrow with D49 said.

Lewis-Palmer School District 38 (D38)

Mark Belcher, Director of Communication with D38 said, “Our process for evaluating and deciding on a snow day or delay during inclement weather begins days in advance of the weather system arriving. With the help of local and regional forecasters, meteorologists and more, we get an idea of the potential impact, localized to our area as well as region-wide.”

“Ultimately, if conditions are such that we do not have confidence in the safety of our students and staff either due to temperatures, or accumulation of snow or ice, we can opt to make a delay or closure call, with the goal of communicating that decision as soon as possible. A delay is called when we are confident conditions will not worsen, or perhaps improve, and a closure occurs when we are not confident about maintaining the safety of students and staff,” Belcher said.

D38 has its Inclement Weather Decision Guide and Inclement Weather Communication & Parent Reference Guide available for parents to see.

Colorado Springs District 11 (D11)

D11’s website says, “School District 11 has appointed supervisory personnel to drive sections of the District during a predicted storm. The supervisory personnel report on weather and road conditions, especially noting poor visibility, poor traction and other hazardous street conditions, wind chill factors, and snow accumulation. These on-the-street supervisors report their findings, and the Superintendent is briefed on the conditions. We evaluate the conditions and further driving reviews and conversations may occur.”

D11 makes the weather decision by 5:30 a.m.

District Two Harrison Schools (D2)

D2’s website says, “Student safety is always the District’s priority in determining whether to close or delay schools. Our Superintendent will consider local road conditions, forecast, and current weather patterns, including temperature, wind-chill, precipitation, and wind. District 2 will also consider neighboring school district decisions, and D2 will make our as early as possible to allow parents as much time as possible to make arrangements for childcare.”

Fountain-Fort Carson District 8 (FFC8)

FFC8’s website says, “District administration constantly monitors weather reports and road conditions when weather is predicted that could impact school operations. This data, in conjunction with information from the City of Fountain, Fort Carson, the National Weather Service, and neighboring school districts, is used to determine whether to run on a normal schedule, delay school start times, or close school.”

Parents can check the website for more information.