Superintendent Dr. Don Haddad explains what goes into a snow day decision: “It’s all about safety”

While online speculation appears to be based on rumor, Dr. Haddad explains how school closures are actually decided when it comes to weather.

Freezing+temperatures+and+snow+often+delay+openings+for+schools+or+can+be+a+predictor+of+snow+days.+

Mav Staff

Freezing temperatures and snow often delay openings for schools or can be a predictor of snow days.

Whenever there are objectionable weather conditions, many will ask for a snow day. It’s been this way for all of recent memory, as a day off from school is a coveted and miraculous happening for most students, regardless of their grade.

However, for many parents it is highly inconvenient to have to make plans for younger children who would otherwise be left home alone on a cancelled day of school, and the importance of not missing classroom instructional time is obvious.

So, with all these factors, how does one make a decision on whether or not to cancel school during poor weather conditions?

“It’s all about safety,” says St.Vrain superintendent Dr. Don Haddad.

“We are monitoring the weather, through all of the weather stations. We also have a professional weather consultant that serves the metro area, called SkyView… then I talk to [Assistant Superintendent of Operations] Brian Lamer, and I talk to our Director of Transportation, and then I talk to the city managers of the local areas, and public safety/law enforcement… I will also contact all of the surrounding districts… to see what’s happening there.”

District officials monitor the weather situation throughout the night, and while they try to have a decision made to announce on the 10 o’clock news, if they cannot come to a decision by then, a final decision is made by 5 A.M. Until that decision is made, the weather is closely monitored. 

“At about three in the morning, we will meet here at the district, and we will begin to drive all the roads, ” Dr. Haddad states.

“The things that we look for is 1) is it snowing? 2) what are the temperatures… then we’ll look at the power in all the buildings… then we will check to see ice and snow buildup, and then again we will be in touch with the city management about their snowplows.”

Dr. Haddad acknowledged that students and families have sometimes been critical of the choices SVVSD has made when it comes to school closures; however, he explains that they actually hear from a small portion of families in the district compared to the number (about 33,000) of students enrolled.

Despite having a limited number of days of school, and widespread speculation about funding playing a part in the decision, Dr. Haddad insists that neither are a factor in calling a snow day.

“In high school, we have four extra days, but we’ve never even gotten close to using four.”

He adds, “And then, even if you use more than four, you can request a waiver from the state… so, we would never make a decision based on the number of days, it’s always about safety.”

All in all, it really is all about safety, as Dr. Haddad is more than willing to express. He makes clear that students are allowed to stay home if their families are concerned about traveling conditions. 

“We make a decision based on all the facts, and all of the information, and then the last thing is, again, if you disagree with the decision, you are absolutely welcome to stay home without any consequence.”

While snow days may be a celebration for some and an inconvenience for others, Dr. Haddad and other district officials explain that safety is their main motivating factor.

“We care deeply about the safety of our children and our teachers and our staff. There is nothing more important to me or to anybody that makes those decisions. It’s all about safety, and we do the very best we can.”