“We make this decision between 5:00 and 5:30 and then by the time you know we have to let parents know, and staff by six because we have many that commute in or parents that are leaving for work and so by 6:00 o'clock and then when school doesn't start till 7:30 a lot can happen. It's a no win situation no matter what decision we make, no matter how many places we check, we check the National Weather Service with the county with the city, when snow plows are going to be out, can the buses function and get to where they need to be. And those were all green lights for us.”
Colton says ultimately it is up to parents to decide if they want their kids to go to school. She says they are motivated to keep schools open because it impacts about 1200 students who would possibly go hungry if they weren’t in school.
“About 25% of our students are on free or reduced lunch. And we worry that they may not get breakfast or lunch if we don't have school, they may not have a warm place to come while mom and dad are at work, so we worry about those kinds of things. But parents, you also need to make that decision and if you don't feel like they can come then you can call in and you can ask for a weather exception.”
Some parents voiced concerns that if their student athletes are absent from school, they wouldn’t be allowed to compete for that day.
“If coaches are telling them differently, then that is something parents need to work out with the principal of each school.”
Colton says parents asked her about a delayed start for this last storm and she explains that on Monday’s and Friday’s it’s not practical and the day would still have to be made up.
“We’ve never done a delayed start in the Park City school district. This year we actually determined Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday those are the days we can do a delayed start. But Mondays you've got early out for the secondary’s and Friday is early dismissal for the elementary’s so if we didn't start till 10:00 o'clock at the elementary’ s on Friday they would've only been there two hours.”
Colton says it’s a delicate balance for the administrative team to make the call. The letter sent out the night before outlined all the options for parents. She says they don’t use social media to communicate because it’s not possible to keep up with the comments and inquiries. She says they’ll communicate via text or email along with messaging on the district’s web page.
“If they do not hear from us by 6 AM that means it is business as usual.”Go to pcschools.us for more information on the school closure policy. The communication to parents the night before Friday’s storm can also be found on KPCW.org.