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Superintendent’s Blog - December 6, 2022

QUESTION: Why doesn’t the district close schools when it snows?

ANSWER: Several factors go into a decision on whether to delay or close school due to winter weather conditions. First and foremost is safety. We consider the safety of our students and their ability to get to school, and we also consider the safety of our employees. 

We try to keep our schools open, if possible. Like any public service, people count on our schools to remain open. Our role in the community goes beyond providing educational services: 

  • Many district students rely on their neighborhood schools for breakfast and lunch. These meals are not simply convenient; they provide nutritional needs for children who may otherwise go without. 
  • A significant number of students in the district would remain home alone without supervision if their school had an unscheduled closure. Many families don't have the luxury of adjusting work schedules on short notice. 
  • A functioning school building provides warmth and safety in addition to classroom instruction.  

Our crews are out as early as 2 or 3 a.m. surveying the road conditions and our school parking lots and sidewalks. They gather information from the Utah Department of Transportation, the National Weather Service, and more before making a recommendation to the Superintendent. 

Sometimes more important than the amount of snowfall is the timing of the storm. If a storm slows down or ends very early in the morning, it leaves enough time for our crews to plow our parking lots and for our custodians to clear sidewalks, as well as for city and state crews to plow the public roads. If a storm hits or is still going strong as the morning commute time starts, even if the actual amount of snowfall is less, it can be harder to clear the roads, parking lots, and sidewalks. 

It’s also important for us to consider how snowfall may be different across the city. For example, our schools located in the upper avenues or in the foothills above Salt Lake may get significantly more snow than schools at a lower elevation, making it much harder for our crews to clear the snow or for a school bus to climb up the hill.

As always, we encourage parents to make attendance decisions for their children based on their specific ability to get to school safely. We trust parents to make the ultimate call when it comes to their child's safety.