What goes into the decision for a snow day?


Katie Franklin

With the immense amount of snow expected this coming weekend, students will not help but wonder, “Will there be a snow day?”

There is a lot more to the decision, though, than just a little bit of snow.

The most important factor taken into account by Superintendent Scott Murphy and district personnel is road conditions. Murphy said that if the snow is really coming down the night before, district employees will go out and inspect the roads. Otherwise they will check early the next morning, before the broadcast at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning. If roads are deemed too dangerous to drive on, school will be cancelled.

Although the road conditions themselves are a major factor in deciding a snow day, driving is a different story. Teen drivers are not always as comfortable driving in ice and snow.

LPS superintendent Scott Murphy said, “Just like it is for me, it is ultimately their decision whether or not to drive themselves [to school]. Drivers should look at the conditions and make a personal decision.”

LPS bus drivers are specially trained for these circumstances; they all go through training for bad weather and bad road conditions. Bus drivers are cautious while taking students to school on bad-weather days, and often take more time due to conditions. The reason buses are often late on snowy days is because of the drivers being cautious, according to Murphy.

The LPS administration is conscious of the students who come to school for meals and the elementary and middle school students who need childcare after school while their parents work, which is a key consideration in the decision to call a snow day as well. Murphy said that this is a growing issue in Denver and LPS: many children get their only meals of the day at school and need to stay late while their parents work. Even if there is a snow day, LPS administration tries their best to keep some schools open for childcare, but it is not guaranteed, Murphy said.

When the decision is made to keep school in session on snowy days, district employees do a lot to keep students safe in these times.

When snowy nights take over Colorado, the custodians at Arapahoe make sure to get to school extra early to create a safe entry for students.

“The custodians come to school at 4:30 and start to shovel and salt all the walkways students enter before they even come into the parking lot,” Assistant Principal Brian Ceriani said. “We do our best to make sure it is safe.”

The district is in charge of treating the parking lot, which gets coated in a gritty mixture to prevent sliding.

Often times, the superintendent’s decision to proceed with school is opposed on snowy days. Murphy said that he gets up to 100 unhappy calls on snowy days opposing the decision and comparing it to other districts that decide to cancel school. One time, an unnamed high school student discovered his personal email, which spread to over 300 students who all emailed and asked for a snow day.

“People are not shy about giving me their opinions,” Murphy said.

LPS has not had a snow day yet this year, but with up to a foot of snow expected this weekend, students should be on the lookout for snowy conditions and broadcasts declaring a snow day. Check the LPS website for up-to-date information regarding snow days (http://www.littletonpublicschools.net/Default.aspx?tabid=389).