How District 51 determines if schools will have a snow day

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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. Those of you who were hoping for a snow day from school Tuesday morning after receiving more snow than expected were disappointed, but it was parents too who were left wondering what it actually takes to cancel classes?

Following the overnight snowfall, District 51 fielded several calls from parents wondering how dangerous the roads need to be for schools to be closed. Tuesday morning's storm was unusual, as many officials hadn't anticipated the amount of snowfall we actually received.

"This morning was a little bit of a nuance because things just weren't happening that early," said Christy McGee, Spokesperson for D51.

"We were expecting to deal with just a little bit here," said Darren Starr, Street Systems Manager for the City of Grand Junction. "By that time it was rolling pretty good, we were getting some pretty good snow. So we went ahead and called in a full crew."

It was a tough call for them as the heavy snow really started coming down in the very early morning around 5:30 a.m., which was in a time where the road crews hadn't had a chance to clear the roads, but buses routes and other school function had already begun.

"By the time the snow really got heavy and the roads got worse, we had buses already out. It's really hard to cancel school once our systems once our systems are kind of put into place," McGee said.

And even though they've only had two snow days in the last 20 years, the district actually takes a lot of input into account before they make their decision whether or not to close.

"Probably about 3:00-3:30 a.m., we have our staff out driving the roads, evaluating their conditions, first-student staff does the same things. We talk to local law enforcement because they're out and about and get their evaluation as well. And we talk to road crews from the city and the county."

"We communicate with them and they talk to us about what we think is coming," added Starr. "It's definitely a predicting game."

McGee also said they're the phone early with forecasters to see what's on the way and receive their feedback.
Though it can be difficult on mornings like Tuesday to get off to school and get there in time, District 51 encourages safe travel by not counting tardies.

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