Have you wondered why a snow day was called when there was little snow at your house, or why one wasn’t called when you had several inches? As local meteorologists know, forecasting Colorado weather is an inexact science.
The Jan. 28th storm, for example, was predicted to be just a few inches. When CCSD leaders started driving the district’s 108 square miles at 3 a.m., there was no snow falling. Weather forecasters were still calling for one to two inches. A decision must be made by 5:30 a.m. so we can communicate in time with families and staff. Once a decision is made, it cannot be changed later in the morning because buses have already begun picking up students and transporting them to school. As we saw with last week’s storm, the storm intensified quickly and significantly, catching even the weather experts off guard. The forecast continued to change during the morning commute.
CCSD does its very best to plan for inclement weather, but parents are reminded that you can always keep your children home based on conditions in your area.
Read on to learn more about how the district makes weather closure or delay decisions:
Any final decision regarding closures or delays is based on the safety of students, staff and community members from across the district. These decisions are collective – we cannot only close one portion of the district, so extreme weather in one part of our large area may very well affect the entirety of CCSD.
• The procedure for determining whether schools will start on time, be delayed or closed is as follows:
• The district receives ongoing weather forecasts from local meteorologists, NOAA and AccuWeather.
• If snow is forecast, the superintendent, district leaders and Transportation Department staff wake at 3 a.m., survey their immediate areas and begin driving the district in quadrants.
• Beginning at 3 a.m., area drivers report conditions to the superintendent and transportation director.
• The district contacts neighboring districts to share information and probable recommendations.
• The forecast is reviewed.
• Before 4:30 a.m., the transportation director and facility maintenance leaders share information and discuss potential recommendations with the superintendent.
• The superintendent reviews all available information and makes the final decision by 5:30 a.m. Once the decision is made, it cannot be changed, even if the weather forecast changes.
• If a delay or cancellation is to be implemented, families will receive a Blackboard Connect call no later than 6 a.m. The Weather Hotline, 720-554-4701, is updated and notifications are sent to local media agencies and posted on the district website and social media.
• In rare cases, it is possible for the district to make a decision the evening before for the next day. When that happens, families will be notified between 9 and 10 p.m.
Because the Cherry Creek School District is 108 square miles conditions may vary in different areas of the district, even from neighborhood to neighborhood. What's more, decisions are based on predictions and conditions on the ground in the district before 5 a.m. We know that sometimes, extreme weather conditions arise or worsen as students, parents and community members are already commuting.
We are committed to making the best possible decisions when it comes to closures and delays, and taking every measure to ensure the safety of our entire community. Our number-one priority is making sure that everyone is able to make it to school safely, and this goal steers every step of our process.
Parents are urged to make contingency plans for their child(ren) in the event of an emergency. Arrangements should be made for students to go to a neighbor's house, or to have access to the home with directions for contacting a parent.
In no case will an elementary school child be released to a person without proper identification and clearance from the school office.
We understand that some parents may make a different decision for their families. If you feel the weather is too severe to send your child to school, please call your school's attendance line and let them know your child will be staying home. The absence will be excused.