Survey says: No delayed snow-day starts for Roaring Fork Schools | PostIndependent.com
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Survey says: No delayed snow-day starts for Roaring Fork Schools

In this file photo from November 2020, Glenwood Springs Middle School students arrive to the school on a snowy morning.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent file

The Roaring Fork School District will not implement an optional delayed start for future snow days, after results of a parent and staff survey were unfavorable.

The district, which includes public schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt, had considered joining the neighboring Garfield Re-2 and Aspen districts in using the delayed start option on wintery days when the roads are slick, instead of taking a full day off.

The idea was that, on certain days, the roads may be unsafe early in the morning when buses normally run their routes, but that conditions often improve by mid-morning.



After a little over 2,100 responses were received to the survey, however, the decision was made to not implement the change when school resumes in January after the holiday break, said Jeff Gatlin, chief of operations for the district.  

“We got a lot of good feedback, and we certainly appreciated that,” he said. “There was a tremendous amount of concern from families who don’t use the bus about getting their children to school on those days.”



The other concern was that the delayed start could increase the demand for students to take the bus when buses are already operating at capacity and with difficulties hiring new drivers, Gatlin said.

With a delayed start, he said buses might end up being the only option for some families, even those living in town but far enough away from their child’s school that vehicle transport is necessary.

In addition, even though the availability of bus drivers later in the morning is less of a concern with the current staffing, it’s still enough of an issue that the delayed start could be difficult to implement, he said.

A shortened day can also be harder for teachers to adjust to, as opposed to just calling a full snow day, he said.

“We might revisit the idea again in the future, but I don’t see us implementing it this year,” Gatlin said.

So far this season, the Roaring Fork Schools have only called one snow day. Typically, there are only a “handful” every school year, Gatlin said. 

“We’ll continue to keep an eye on things, but we’ll treat this winter just like we have in the past,” he said.Currently, the district cancels school due to inclement weather according to a process detailed on the district’s website. That decision is made by 5:30 a.m. based on input from bus drivers, county road departments and state highway officials.

Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at jstroud@postindependent.com or at 970-384-9160.

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