In winter, students of all ages have one thing on their mind. Snow days. Snow days have been moved to an almost legendary state in Colorado and it’s no wonder why. A whole day off of school is more than enough to get hardworking students excited. But what really constitutes a snow day? And what are some of the alternatives?
Jefferson county is responsible for over 770 square miles of Colorado and they make it very clear on their website that snow days will only be called for extreme weather conditions.
In an informational letter posted to the Jeffco public schools website they say, “Jeffco Public Schools includes metro and foothills areas, as well as some mountain communities. Jeffco Public Schools rarely takes snow days or implements a delayed start time. We live in an area where snow is typical in the winter and unless the storm is extreme, school will not be cancelled.”
Despite this however Jeffco also reminds us that in the end it is the parents decision on whether or not to send their children to school and if parents truly disagree and feel it is unsafe to send their children in the snow then they can choose not to send them.
A-West assistant principal Kelly Granfield agrees that when it comes to snow days, safety comes first. She says, “When it’s not safe for parents dropping kids off, students driving, staff driving…that it’s a good way to relieve students missing work, staff taking days off, and that when those are called, it’s helpful”.
The far more likely measure to be taken in cases of adverse weather conditions is a two hour delay. A-West has already had to implement a two hour delay this semester due to a late night freeze. The two hour delay occurred on January sixth. Jeffco specifies that these delays will occur due to “bad weather” and will also be announced by 6:00 A.M. on the given day.
The two hour delay was met with some controversy this last week with many not sure if the delay was worth it. Attendance in most classes was below average and despite most teachers showing up many students and families elected not to.
In defense of the two hour delay Granfield says this, “If it had been a snow day all activities and sports would have been cancelled. So if there are any games or practices or anything that day, and we get a snow day they are not allowed to practice…if it’s a two hour delay, we are able to keep the activities”.
A main concern that is often cited when talking about the risk of taking snow days is the impact it can have on the number of student contact hours. Cancelling school for a whole day can often put teachers and students behind in the curriculum and many believe that the days lost to the snow are added back on at the end of the year to make up for lost hours.
Granfield help clear this up as well saying, “They [the district] build in, say three days, so if we were to have three snow days then we would be fine with our contact hours and we don’t have to make it up…we also have two days built in for potential make up snow days. One would be in April and the other would be at the end of the year in May”. Granfield clarified she is not sure on the exact amount of days that are built in.
There is a lot of information to weigh when it comes to making decisions about the weather, especially in Colorado. Questions and concerns about these days will always be prevalent as long as snow and students remain in Colorado and while we might not always agree with the decisions made it’s important to remember that the district and our school have the best interests of students and staff in mind.