Schools stay open through weather |

Schools stay open through weather

SUMMIT COUNTY ” Schools superintendent Millie Hamner didn’t get much sleep Wednesday night. Horizontal snow hit her face as she left the school board meeting around 11 p.m., and the wind continued to howl all night long.

She woke up to a 5:30 a.m. phone call from Summit School District transportation manager Nancy Schnabel, asking her to decide whether local students should venture out into the cold and onto district buses to make the trip to school.

“Are roads closed?” Hamner asked.

“Just the Dillon Dam Road,” Schnabel responded.

“Are all your bus drivers there?”

“Even the ones from Leadville and Fairplay got here on time.”

“Do they have any concerns about getting onto their buses and driving children to school safely?”

“They have no concerns.”

Hamner made the call to open school doors as scheduled, but she was on edge as the snow kept piling up.

“I’ve had a pit in my stomach all day,” she said Thursday afternoon. “It comes down to a judgment call that is made after reviewing several factors. I rely on (Schnabel’s) expertise on running the fleet of buses.”

Factors that play into Hamner’s decision on school delays, cancellations and early dismissals include road closures, warnings from the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the county Road and Bridge Department and input from Schnabel and the district’s facilities manager, Kerry Barth.

Barth informed Hamner early Thursday morning that all district buildings had power and all lots were clear of snow, and neither CDOT nor Road and Bridge issued warnings.

However, Hamner urged parents to use their own best judgment during inclement weather, even when schools remain open.

“If parents feel the conditions aren’t safe, they have the right to keep their children home,” she said.

School closures in Summit County, while rare, have occurred.

When district officials order cancellations, delays or early dismissals, they release information to local media and provide details on the district phone hotline at (970) 748-7600.

Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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