Davis County on average receives 58 inches of snow annually between the months of October and April. Generally speaking, Utah is prepared for winter weather. Occasionally the area is hit by a sizeable storm and to some, particularly those from other areas of the country, keeping schools open may seem peculiar.
However, the Davis School District recognizes that schools are a public service. Many rely on schools remaining open and serving as a safe haven for children. The district recognizes that many students may be left home without adult supervision as some parents do not have the luxury of choosing to stay home. Closures, due to snow, are rare.
With that in mind, here are some frequently asked questions and answers regarding weather closures in the Davis School District.
What determines a weather closure?
Administrators monitor the National Weather Service for storm warnings and closely monitor a storm’s status throughout the night. District snowplows are dispatched as early as 1 a.m. to begin plowing school parking lots. Snowplow drivers report road conditions and district utility services staff monitor buildings for weather-related conditions, such as power outages. Additionally, the district receives reports from local law enforcement and the Utah Highway Patrol.
Using that information, the Superintendent determines whether there will be a school closure. This decision is made by 6 a.m. In the event of a weather closure, parents are notified through the district’s school messaging system with a call-out and e-mail. Notification is also posted on Facebook, Twitter and school and district websites. News media are also alerted.
I can’t get out of my driveway. Why aren’t you closing schools?
Davis School District covers 268 square miles. Conditions vary throughout the county. Residents on the Bountiful bench may be buried under snow whereas residents in west Layton may have very little accumulation. Additionally, some city streets may be cleared earlier than others.
Ultimately parents can make the call when it comes to their child’s safety. If you do not think it is safe to transport or send your student to school, please keep them home. Administrators and teachers will be understanding of tardies and absences due to inclement weather. Students are advised to meet with their teachers when they return to complete any missing assignments.
Will the bus be delayed?
Buses, like private vehicles, are victims to slow traffic during inclement weather. If traffic is delayed, buses will be delayed. Students who ride the bus should dress for the inclement weather to make the longer wait more comfortable. Administrators and teachers will be understanding of tardies due to late buses.
Why do we have to make up days lost due to inclement weather?
State law requires schools to be in session 180 days. Annually, when the Davis School District creates the school year calendar, it schedules those 180 days. The calendar is created in advance so parents know start dates, end dates, breaks and other days off from school. Each year one day is identified in the spring as a makeup snow day. If more than one day needs to be made up, the district will notify parents of what days will be used for those make up days. Typically, it will be in the spring and may include days during spring break.
Why don’t you just start school late on a snowy day?
With 90 schools, the logistics of a districtwide late start are complicated. The Superintendent does have that option, but like a weather closure, it will rarely be used. Many rely on schools remaining open and serving as a safe haven for children. The district recognizes that many students may be left home without adult supervision as some parents do not have the luxury of choosing to go to work late. Additionally, lunch, bus and kindergarten schedules must be considered.
It’s been snowing all day. Shouldn’t you send students home early?
Schools are a safe, warm haven. The district recognizes that sending students home early may mean children are going to an empty home. Schools will remain open on days they are scheduled to be in operation. Parents may be asked to pick up students early if there is a health or safety concern — such as power out for several hours and the temperature in the school dropping below department of health requirements. But the district will not close school early.
The news indicates it will snow all night. Why don’t you announce a weather closure the night before so I can prepare for it?
Unfortunately, weather is unpredictable. Many a forecasted storm has not lived up to the hype. Additionally, sometimes weather surprises us and more happens than forecast. The decision to close schools is made in the morning to avoid any unnecessary makeup days.
The parking lot is a mess. Doesn’t the district have a snowplow?
Davis School District uses 30 trucks to plow 101 district facilities, which includes 89 schools. During a normal snow event, it takes two trucks an 8-hour shift to plow a high school parking lot. Plows may start out as early as midnight. If there are cars in the parking lot, effective snow removal is limited. If the snowstorm is active, schools plowed first may see additional accumulation and appear to have been missed by the plow crew. Secondary schools, which start earlier, are typically plowed first.
The district called for a late start. Does this mean the cancellation of any programs or classes?
Yes, because of transportation issues and other logistics, all kindergarten, preschool, Head Start and Early Head Start classes are cancelled in the event of a late-start due to weather. Additionally, all before-school programs and field trips scheduled to begin prior to the late-start time are cancelled.
Where can I find out if schools are closed?
In the event of a weather closure, all media will be notified — KSL, KUTV, KTVX and KSTU, Standard-Examiner, Salt Lake Tribune, Deseret News and the Davis County Clipper. Additionally, any school closure or late start will be posted to Facebook, Twitter and on each school’s website. The district also uses a call-out system to call and email phone numbers and emails listed in their student's information. Text messages will also be sent to those parents who opt in by texting "Y" or "Yes" to 67587.
Does a district closure impact other entities?
Davis School District can only close district schools. If you have students who attend a charter school or who take classes at a nearby university or technical college, you will need to check with that entity regarding closures.