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Metro Denver school districts decide to open schools, then announce early dismissal in storm

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DENVER – Many metro-area school districts, including Denver Public Schools, decided to open as scheduled Tuesday, but then re-assessed by mid-morning and announced students would be released early.

In DPS, middle and high school students were released at noon, and elementary kids were released at 2 p.m.

Some parents were fine with the decision, but others were not.

At West High School, parent Nikki Dominguez was disappointed.

“They shouldn’t have sent the kids to school this morning,” she said.

Connie De Leon, another parent, agreed. She wishes the district had just canceled school early in the morning.

“I actually think they should have called it first thing. I mean, it just was chaotic,” De Leon said.

Speaking by phone on FOX31 Morning News, DPS Deputy Superintendent of Operations Mark Ferrandino said the district made the decision to stay open around 4:30 a.m. based on information at the time.

But the FOX31 Problem Solvers looked back at our morning newscasts.

At 4:30 a.m., our Pinpoint Weather meteorologists Brooks Garner and Chris Tomer told viewers snow was moving in, and around 5 a.m., both started to adjust expectations for snow.

“The snow starts now across the Front Range,” Chris Tomer told Channel 2 viewers at 5:01 a.m.

“I was hoping it was going to hold off for a couple more hours, but it’s not. It’s here, and so as you are heading in, plan on winter conditions,” Garner told FOX31 viewers at 5:02 a.m.

So, why didn’t DPS or the other districts adjust their plans at 5 a.m.?

Will Jones, the director of external communications for DPS, said the meteorologists are just one factor.

“This is not an exact science. We take all the information we have  from the meteorologists. We take all the information we have from the city and the state. We take all the information that we get from the surrounding districts, then we try to make the best decision we can based on the information we have,” he said.

The district also has staff checking road conditions around school, the sidewalks and parking lots. That also impacts their decisions.

In the end, the district made the same decision as several others in the metro area, including Adams 12, Douglas County, Jeffco and Littleton Public Schools.

The district says they will try to let families know about any changes to the Wednesday schedule Tuesday night, if possible.

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