Metro school districts explain decision not to cancel school

With the awful weather and road conditions Monday morning, many parents are wondering why schools weren’t closed.  All the major school districts had class as planned, although some cancelled after school activities.

“They definitely should have called it this morning. This is a snow day!” said Michelle Major, who kept her kids home from school in Douglas County today because she didn’t think it was safe.

Tyler Hutson was also concerned about his daughter in Denver schools.  “I didn't drive today so I don`t think my daughter should have been,” he said.

So why weren’t schools closed or delayed?

“Mother Nature played a dirty little trick on us today, and its inconvenienced a lot of families,” said Will Jones with Denver Public Schools. He says a group of administrators made the decision at 3 am, based on the information at that time.  Unfortunately, the forecast shifted, and we got more snow than expected.

“We were expecting one to three inches of snow starting at 2 am and being gone be 10. Mother Nature gave us a different outcome, so its been challenging this morning.  A lot of our families have reached out to us wanting to know why we didn`t close,” Jones said.

Other districts were facing similar questions.  Westminster Public schools posted a letter to parents that says:

Dear Westminster Public School Families,

This morning's winter storm was more intense than anyone anticipated and odds are you and your family were impacted as you tried to get your children to school.

We are sorry that you did not have more notice about conditions and WPS was unable to call a delayed start. As you may know, virtually every school district and transportation department in the metro area was caught off guard.

Weather forecasting is not an exact science and sometimes, like this morning, the forecasts are inaccurate. As a result of the heavy snow and the continued cold temperatures, all afternoon events and afternoon half day pre-school have been canceled.

Safety is always our highest priority and you should always feel free to make your own decision about sending your children to school.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

 

Littleton Public Schools sent a letter out that says:

Dear LPS Parents, Staff and Key Communicators:

Colorado weather can be unpredictable and this morning’s snow is evidence of that. I want to take this opportunity to share with you some insight into how weather-related decisions are made on days like today. We work hard to make decisions in the best interests of all LPS students. We think about our students of all ages who walk, ride a bus or drive themselves to school, and we remember that many of our students travel from other districts to attend our schools. We also take into account the hardship a school cancellation places on our families who need childcare and may depend on a hot meal at school.

The decision whether or not to cancel school is complex and never taken lightly. The process begins the night before, as staff consult with private weather forecasting services, CDOT and law enforcement agencies throughout the night. LPS operations and transportation personnel drive district roads in the early morning before decisions are made. Denver metro area superintendents discuss conditions impacting school districts across the area and coordinate decision-making whenever it is appropriate to do so. Today, based on all the information we had available to us, no public school districts in the metro area were delayed or cancelled.

While we cannot anticipate the exact outcome of every storm and resulting road conditions, we care deeply about every student’s well being. This morning was a perfect example of the front range forecast catching all school districts off guard. Weather forecasts were calling for one or two inches of total snow for the day in our area, with snow ending by mid morning. The forecast changed around 6:30 a.m., which is too late for LPS to cancel school or schedule a delayed start. By that time, some bus routes are already in progress and some parents have already left for work, relying on LPS to have school. We ended up getting significantly more snow than was forecast and traffic was significantly impacted.

We understand that not everyone agrees with decisions related to weather delays or closures. Despite our best efforts, sometimes our decisions do not play out how we would like. Parents always have the right and the responsibility to do what is best for their children, and our schools respect those decisions. The option to bring children to school late or keep children home when weather conditions are extreme is always at the parents' discretion.

Thank you for your support and your patience!

Sincerely,

Brian Ewert
Superintendent
Littleton Public Schools

Adams 12 Five Star Schools sent a message that said:

Dear Five Star Families:

Please be advised that all after-school and evening activities and events for Monday Jan. 28 have been cancelled due to weather. BASE and PEAK programs will remain open and follow their normal hours.

A Response to today's weather-related decision

We’ve received inquiries about why a 2-hour delay or snow closure was not called today. Our process calls for announcing a delayed start or closure by 5:30 a.m. At that time, weather reports were still indicating we would receive an inch or two of snow through midday, and temperatures and wind would not be a significant concern. As you know, the storm ended up delivering much more snow in a shorter amount of time than forecasted for our area, making for challenging road conditions.

Despite our best efforts, sometimes our decisions do not play out how we would like. We regret that this unexpected change in weather conditions led to a challenging commute for many families and our bus transportation team. Parents always have the right and the responsibility to do what is best for their children, and our schools respect those decisions. The option to bring children to school late or keep children home when weather conditions are extreme is always at the parents' discretion.

To learn more more about how we make weather-related decisions, including how we notify you, please visit www.adams12.org/weather.

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