Procedure on school closures revamped
After complaints from parents after last week’s sometimes stormy weather, Roaring Fork School District Re-1 decided to change its procedure for calling snow days. The district received many calls from parents in Basalt asking why the district did not cancel school Jan. 12 even though it canceled some bus routes in the town. “I got asked if we were shooting for some sort of award for not calling snow days,” assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall told the school board. The district was not shooting for a record, but “in retrospect, due to the ice on the roadways and the accumulation of snow on top, it would have been a far wiser decision to close for the day,” wrote superintendent Fred Wall in a letter released this week. The district has decided to change its procedure for calling snow days, Wall continued. In the past the district relied heavily on information it received from highway and road departments about the conditions of roads. In the future, the district will get road information “first-hand” from school employees such bus drivers, snow removal and maintenance personnel, even Wall himself. The district will also look at when it becomes more efficient to close a whole attendance area or the whole district rather than closing certain routes, he said. “People question if a (school bus) route is closed whether the whole school should be closed,” he said. Due to the Roaring Fork Valley’s climate, sometimes the district will have to make choices about what routes or attendance areas to close, but the district will “discuss specifically how many routes and how many students that are affected by those route closures,” when deciding if the district and students will be better off cancel school. The district also received calls from parents who were nervous about their student driving in tough conditions. Wall wrote that parents were best able to make the call on whether students or parents are capable of driving and that a call to the school will excuse the absence. Finally, there is not set amount of snow that must fall for the schools to close, according to Wall’s letter. “The amount of snow is only one factor in closing school. Wind, ice, and temperature also factor into a decision.”
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