Canceling school is snow easy decision
March 20, 2019
To call a snow day or to not call a snow day? That is the question that plagues St. Vrain Valley School District Superintendent Don Haddad anytime it snows in the district, and the answer to that question does not come easy for him.
“If we cancel school, there will be many parents and students saying “Why are you canceling school? It’s easy to get there,’ and if you don’t cancel school you get many people saying ‘Why don’t you cancel school?’”
Superintendent Haddad never makes the decision lightly. When the decision does have to be made, he attempts to do it before 5 a.m. As parents and students wait for the message, they may be wondering, what exactly is Haddad thinking?
The process begins long before the morning of the snowy day. The school district surveys the weather forecasts every week and confers with their very own weather consultant. Haddad also consults with Brian Lamer, the assistant superintendent of operations and maintenance who oversees transportation, snow plows, and facilities.
If a snow day is still a possibility, but hasn’t yet been called, administrators will drive around the greater Longmont/Erie/Carbon Valley/Mead/Lyons/Niwot area and will survey the roads. These teams look for an excess amount of snow, icy conditions, low temperatures that could prevent the buses from running, or anything that could impact the power at the schools.
Haddad will also call the neighboring school districts, such as Boulder Valley, Thompson Poudre, Adams 12, etc., to see what decision they are going to make. He will also call the City of Longmont and other municipalities. By doing this, Haddad is able to gauge whether the city plows will be able clear the roads and if other officials believe the roads are safe enough.
If all of these factors present as problems, Haddad makes the decision to call a snow day with the operations team, and then he calls the communications department, where they will send out the notice to parents and other various media outlets.
Obviously, this process is very involved and takes numerous factors into consideration. However, Haddad stressed, “We make our decisions purely on safety.”
Eric Rauschkolb, the principal of Niwot High School, said that the school receives a “phone call very early in the morning.” The other administrators notify staff and begin to reschedule sporting events and other school activities. Although there’s no financial cost when it comes to canceling school, he said not all families can easily accommodate the last minute change to their schedules.
When the conditions are bad, Haddad has the option to cancel school all together or to simply call a two hour delay. Haddad says that “delayed starts can be more problematic.” The factors that would designate a delayed start would be a dramatic improvement in the conditions or that the snow plows from the City of Longmont and the other municipalities determine that they can clear the roads by then. These factors do not usually occur and calling a delayed start can be more of an issue because parents may not be able to drop their kids off at the later time.
The decision to call a snow day is not made without careful consideration and an ultimate result is made with the priority being the safety of students and their families. As for high school students who may be scared of driving to school in snowy or icy conditions which may exist in particular areas of the district, “If you and your parent believe it’s not safe… you’re totally welcome to stay home and your absence will be excused without any consequences.”
If you have any additional questions about the process, feel free to contact the superintendent’s office at 303-682-7205.