Why doesn’t the District make a Snow Day decision the night before to give people time to make plans?
Our goal is to keep our schools open and our students in class. We do not want to cancel school unnecessarily if there’s any possibility that roads will be safe to drive after plows work through the night. This isn’t known until the early morning. Weather patterns and road conditions change rapidly in our area, which means we must decide on a Delay or Closure early in the morning of a school day. We know this decision process can make it challenging to plan ahead, and we appreciate your patience in adapting to changing conditions.
During recent Snow Day closures, there was very little snow at my house and the roads near me were fine. Why was this considered “severe weather” and “hazardous roads”?
It’s a matter of perspective. La Plata County has many different microclimates and the District includes a 1,000 square mile footprint, which means storm patterns can vary between heavy snow in one area and light rain in another. School buses face unique challenges on slick roads. One of the district’s primary concerns is whether our bus drivers can navigate hazardous roads and get children to school safely.
There is a wide variety between individual commuters as well. Consider this comparison: An inexperienced teenage driver in a two-wheel drive with worn tires will have a different risk factor than a longtime resident in a four-wheel drive, high-clearance vehicle.
How many Snow Days can the District use?
Colorado law requires schools to provide a minimum number of hours of instruction. The total number of instruction hours can be more than that, and varies depending on the calendar for a specific year. By law, schools can reduce up to 24 hours below the designated minimum for safety reasons that students do not have to make up. As of Jan. 3, based on this school year’s calendar, the District has approximately one more day for a school closure this winter season before students and staff have to start making up time.
What happens if the District uses the last Snow Day, and then there are more days ahead with hazardous road conditions?
We have a minimum number of hours in elementary, middle, and high schools that must be dedicated to in-person learning. If we dip below that limit, we would need to begin making up time by adding days to the school year or adding on to the length of some school days.
Does the school district staff get paid for a free day off on Snow Days?
It’s not a day off. Staff have different schedules, with a certain number of days that they are contracted to work. Many staff members continue to work during Snow Day closures, including administrative staff and select support staff. While many of our licensed staff and student service providers use this unexpected time for lesson planning and grading, the two recent closures were Snow Days – not Professional Development days or a New Year’s Day observed holiday on Jan. 2.
How and when are the delay/closure notifications delivered?
The District collaborates with multiple agencies and receives road reports from early arriving staff members between midnight and 5 a.m. (Please refer to our Snow Day Timeline infographic for details.) After weighing multiple factors and consulting with the local Office of Emergency Management, District administrators make the decision on a delay or closure around 5:30 a.m. Next, the District communications team prepares a message across multiple channels and sends it out as soon as possible following the decision. Channels include:
- District website at durangoschools.org
- District Information Line at (970) 375-3811
- Simultaneous text, call, and email to all emergency contacts listed in Infinite Campus and Infinite Visions
- Posts on District and school-specific social media pages (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)
- Communication with local radio stations and newspapers
Families are advised to check the website first for a pop-up message, as all of these channels are loaded with message content in the sequence listed above. If a delay message is sent first, as on Jan. 3, please remember to check the various channels again before driving to schools in the event of a full closure.
I didn’t receive an emergency notification by text, call, or email. How do I get on the list?
Please log in to your Parent Portal account in Infinite Campus and carefully check your emergency contact information, including spelling of emails and listing of phone numbers. You must be listed as an emergency contact in Infinite Campus to receive the notifications. If you do not have a Parent Portal account, please submit this request to Student Information Services.
Some students at school entrances and bus stops were stranded and unaware of the school closures. How can the District prevent this?
A delay notification means everything will be delayed for two hours, including bus pick-up and entry into school buildings. Students should not be dropped off early. There is no early pick-up, and school doors will be locked and inaccessible. Please remember to check the District Information Hotline and website for the most recent updates before leaving your home and driving to school or bus stops.
How can I prepare for the potential of a Snow Day?
- Check the weather the night before.
- Prepare your vehicle, driveway, and access roads.
- Get up early, plan to leave your house early, and remain calm and flexible.
- Prepare alternate daycare plans for your student(s).
- Drive slowly and do not pass plows or other drivers.
- Buses may be delayed as drivers take extra care on the roads. Please make sure your children are wearing appropriate winter clothing at the bus stops, including warm coats, boots, gloves, and hats.
- If you would like your child to ride the bus instead of driving him/her to school, contact our Transportation Department in advance at (970) 247-5335; email [email protected]; or click this bus registration link.
I have strong feelings about this decision. How can I share my opinion? A disruption in routine can be unsettling for children and adults. It’s a good opportunity to practice kindness and the Portrait of a Graduate competencies of Empathetic Collaborator, Resilient Risk-Taker, and Creative Problem-Solver. This is not an easy decision. Remember that our focus is to keep children in school; but the safety of our students, staff, and families is our top priority. To share your feedback regarding a Snow Day decision, email [email protected].
This Snow Day Timeline infographic explains the decision-making process: