Safe or Sorry?

In a poll conducted by Chaparral Newspaper, 84% of students in the Douglas County School District reported that to their belief, DCSD doesn’t call school closures appropriately. The trials and tribulations when it comes to a school closure or delay, are far and few between. DCSD has published a list of snow day criteria the district follows when monitoring storms for closures and delays. Spanning 850+ square miles, the district covers a lot of ground. When calling delays and closures it is important to take into account all weather conditions across the district. “The decision to close, delay, or keep a school open during inclement weather is never taken lightly.” According to the DCSD website. Within the district, The designated DCSD Snow Team works to monitor weather conditions and assess if a weather delay or closure is a necessary decision. This Snow Team also communicates the decision to stakeholders and the public. On days where weather conditions result in a delay, DCSD will still excuse a students absence if they respectfully decide to miss school all together and they receive a parents call excusing their student.

Across the county, The Snow Team will start assessing a storm 24 hours prior to the start of the forecasted storm. If conditions are considered concerning, a recommendation for a delay or closure will move up to the superintendent who will make the final decision. The District will first receive an ongoing weather forecast from local meteorologists, SkyView weather, and the National Weather Service. Later in the evening at 4pm, the day prior to the storm, an operations team will decide to activate the DCSD Snow Team. In the event of this, the Snow Team will be called and scheduled later that evening at 4am the next morning. Once the show team has been activated, area drivers will start to report conditions to a transportation director and the Chief operations officer at 3am. Following this, the district staff will contact neighbouring school districts and share the collected informations and recommendations. During this time, the forecast is continuously reviewed. When 4am arrives, the Operating officers superintendent and fellow cabinet members, join a call among the Snow Team. In this call the following recommendations and information from monitoring the storm are reviewed and taken into action. The final decision is then made at or before 5am by the superintendent. If this delay or closure is implemented, families will be notified by a text message and email vis SchoolMessenger no later than 6am, notifications are also sent to local media agencies and posted on the district website/ Social media channels. In the rare case that the district calls a delay or closure the evening before the next day, families will be notified between 9 and 10 pm. “We are committed to making the best possible decisions when it comes to closures and delays” says the district, “and taking every measure to ensure the safety of our entire community.”

Though the district claims that keeping students safe is its “Number-one priority”, students among the district commonly talk about the dangerous nature of the district not calling delays and closures in snowy weather conditions. Whether there is a delay or closure, students are advised to stay safe on and off the roads during drastic weather conditions.

Story by Arianna May

Photo by Arianna May

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