Districts close schools for first time in years, universities remain open 05

Whitney Simmons, 15, of Payson, sleds down a hill as Jakell Smith, 15, of Santaquin, waits her turn at the Peteetneet Museum and Cultural Arts Center on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, in Payson. The two teens are both sophomores at Salem Hills High School, and they decided to spend a rare snow day off from school sledding and snowboarding. Isaac Hale, Daily Herald

Feb. 18 will be the Provo City School District’s snow make-up day, the district announced Friday.

Prior to the district’s decision to make last Monday a snow day, the school district’s calendar showed both Feb. 17 and Feb. 18 as days off from school, for President’s Day and a Professional Development Day, respectively. Now, students will return to school Tuesday rather than Wednesday.

“Decisions to cancel school are never made lightly,” the announcement reads. “The early morning call for a cancellation of school was made after consultation between District Administration, Transportation Department personnel, Maintenance Department personnel, Provo City personnel and neighboring school districts.”

The National Weather Service in Salt Lake City issued a hazardous weather outlook for the western two-thirds of the state the day of the snow day.

District personnel drove Provo’s streets at 3 a.m. and reported icy roads and considered an upcoming forecast for heavy snow, according to the announcement. While not much snow ended up accumulating in some areas of the school district, with students that live up in the mountain benches and employees who live across the county, the district issued a closure, citing safety.

The decision to have Feb. 18, a Tuesday, as the make-up day was issued after the district spoke to the Provo Education Association, district administration, employees and parents, and looked at comments on social media.

The district will accept excused absences for any students whose families had already planned to be away that day, according to the announcement.

Public schools must have at least 990 instructional hours over at least 180 days each academic year and make up days that are missed due to lost weather. The Provo City School District petitioned the Utah State Board of Education for a waiver to not have to make up that day, the announcement reads, but the request was denied.

Braley Dodson covers health and education for the Daily Herald.

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