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No need to clear those streets for DPS students...
No need to clear those streets for DPS students...
Denver7 via YouTube

Readers: School Snow Days Give Me a Break From Traffic

To call a snow day or not to call a snow day? That was the question last week, as school districts across the Denver metro area contemplated whether a predicted heavy fall snowstorm would make roads too treacherous. Denver Public Schools initially decided to stay open on Tuesday, October 29, when the schedule was allowed to move forward per normal, without even a delayed start, but then announced an early closure that further inconvenienced families. DPS decided to close altogether on Wednesday, when travel was far better than on the previous days.

And all through the process, DPS's communication was lousier than the roads themselves.

Here's what readers have to say about DPS's call: Says Oscar:

When I was a kid there’s no way DPS would’ve shut down over this baby snowstorm.

Adds Joyce:

The storm wasn't that bad, no reason to close the schools. Some parents should toughen up.

Notes Eva:

Denver kids don’t know how to dress for these types of temperatures. They’ll leave the house in shorts, flip-flops and a windbreaker, then lose their feet. Schools don’t want that liability.

Argues Christopher:

What snow? This isn't shit.

Responds Robert:

Why is it that everyone is upset about the snow day or days? In my own opinion it has been great. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t have to sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic. The takeaway should be to let them have snow days so others like myself can have a break from traffic every now and again when driving for work, even though we still encounter poor driving conditions.

Comments Caitlin:

I wish your DPS article would have mentioned the flip side of the fact that some kids count on breakfast and lunch and a warm, safe place to be from school. I had half my kids yesterday and one showed up over an hour late and hadn’t eaten breakfast. We were able to give her both breakfast and lunch before she went home at 2. I don’t know if she would have eaten if she hadn’t come to school. I also didn’t show movies; I used the time to do intervention and really differentiations for my students. Those kids who came have far fewer holes in math than the week before. I was also able to connect with them on a more personal basis due to not having all 32 kids in class. Does it delay new instruction? Sure. Snow does that. It hurts kids and families when DPS closes. I’m thankful I don’t have to make that call.

Some folks were upset that DPS didn't declare a snow day on Monday, October 28, since the white stuff had started falling the previous day, making travel tricky in some areas. Those emotions boiled over the next day, when a storm initially predicted to strike on the afternoon of October 29 instead rolled through metro Denver starting around 5 a.m., and quickly turned the commute into a demolition derby.

In the meantime, the district suffered from a near-complete communication breakdown. As streets and highways got slicker and slicker, spokespersons were rolled out to explain that the snow-day decision had to be made by 4:30 a.m., and at that point, conditions were fine. Never mind that this timeline actually contradicts information contained in a DPS video on the topic, which states that its chief operating officer is to be informed about the prospects for a closure at 3:30 a.m., with the superintendent giving a yea or nay by 4 a.m. and media outlets getting the information no later than 5 a.m.

As the problems escalated, Denver Public Schools' Facebook page offered no updates until 9:14 a.m., when the following bland post appeared: "All DPS schools are open and operating on a normal schedule today, Tuesday, Oct. 29. Due to road conditions, there may be minor delays on some bus routes. All field trips and afterschool activities are canceled for the day."

A blizzard of complaints followed. What do you think about snow days in Denver? Let us know in a comment or at editorial@westword.com.

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