Summit schools closed for second snow day |

Summit schools closed for second snow day

SUMMIT COUNTY – Students in Summit County schools had another day off from classes Wednesday – thanks to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT).

Schools Superintendent Wes Smith made the decision to close school Tuesday because the district’s bus drivers were having trouble getting from their homes to the buses because of the new snow, Smith said.

But Wednesday’s circumstances were a little different.

“We closed at the recommendation and request of CDOT,” Smith said. “I’ve never had the state’s transportation department give any advice (before). So this is unique.”

It’s likely CDOT wanted to reduce the traffic on roads and therefore minimize the chance of automobile accidents, Smith said.

“And I certainly didn’t want to assume all the liability the school district would be exposed to by ignoring their request,” he said.

In addition, Interstate 70 – between Frisco and Silverthorne – and the Dillon Dam Road were closed when Smith made his decision in the early hours of Wednesday morning.

Some have questioned his decision, he said, and suggested it might have been more appropriate to open school two hours late. But late openings often risk student safety.

“I think the two-hour delays are about the most dangerous approach you can take to school closures,” Smith said. “About half the time people do late starts, they end up changing it to cancellations.”

When that happens, students are left stranded or locked out of their homes – while their parents assume their children are safe at school. Smith said he would rather make a mistake with a school cancellation than risk the safety of the students.

“Usually, I can stop a snowstorm by calling off school,” Smith said, laughing.

As is customary when schools are closed, all school activities also were cancelled Wednesday – except the high school’s dress rehearsal for this weekend’s musical, “Footloose.”

“The high school principal is empowered to make those exceptions,” Smith said. “One of the things we expect them to take into consideration is the safety of students.”

“Footloose” director Rachel Pokrandt said she called for Wednesday’s dress rehearsal because it was the last chance to rehearse before the show. While she phoned all the students involved to tell them the dress rehearsal was still on, she also gave them the option to stay home if their parents were concerned for their safety, she said. Four students remained home.

The school calendar only accounts for one snow day, so Summit schools will have to make up Wednesday’s lost day before the end of the year, Smith said.

School officials have yet to determine when to schedule the make-up day.

“We have a decision to make,” he said. “But I do want to give everybody assurance that we’re not going to touch spring break.”

The middle school’s CSAP tests, which had been scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, also will need to be rescheduled. The state gives schools a two- to three-week window in which to administer the tests, Smith said, and they likely will be rescheduled before spring break.

Lu Snyder can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or

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