The Alpine School District Board of Education approved a policy Tuesday allowing for schools to be closed, have delayed starts or an early release in the case of unsafe weather after a lack of a snow day several months ago caused outrage in the district.
“I want to thank the superintendent and members of the cabinet for dealing with this before another snowpocalypse like we had this year, so we have proper procedures to deal with that instead of Twitter pages and Instagrams being full of what they are doing in school,” Sarah Beeson, a member of the board, said during the meeting.
In February, parents and students took to social media after the district didn’t declare a snow day when the National Weather Service issued a winter weather advisory and educational entities to the north, such as the University of Utah, Canyons School District and the Jordan School District canceled school.
Weather can vary throughout the Alpine School District, including in the valleys and up in the benches. The new winter weather policy would allow for closures, early releases and delays at the district, cluster and school levels for weather or safety reasons.
Under the new policy number 1800, potentially unsafe weather conditions would be reported to the district’s superintendent in order for them to make a decision by 10 p.m. the night before a potential closure, release or delay. In the case of unexpected safety hazards, weather conditions will be assessed and reported to the superintendent by 5 a.m. the day of so they can make a decision by 5:30 a.m.
Under a two-hour delay, bus pick up times and the school day will be pushed back by two hours after a school’s normal start time. School would still end at the normal times. Breakfast would not be served and lunch would be provided on a delayed-start schedule. All kindergarten and preschool classes would be canceled.
An emergency two-hour day would never be declared on a Monday. Because Monday schedules are already abbreviated, schools would be closed, instead.
Employees would be expected to arrive at the schools as soon as safely possible.
For an early release, elementary and middle school students would be kept at schools until parents and guardians are notified and pick up the children. Students who are 15 years old or older can be released without parental notification if authorized by the school’s principal.
In the case of a school closure, the first day of spring break is designated as a makeup day.
Parents and guardians will be notified of delays, closures and early releases through the district’s communications systems. Announcement would also be made on the district’s social media accounts and through local media.
The policy has been in the works for about two months with the aim to get ahead of winter weather, Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for the district, told the board during the meeting.
Ada Wilson, a member of the board and the policy committee, said the policy creates more options.
“I wanted to point out that it does open up and give the superintendent a bigger window for making a judgement and I just really appreciate the flexibility that it gives him and he is still where the buck stops,” Wilson said during the meeting.
Wilson said the plan still allows for parents to decide to keep their children home if schools are open and they don’t think it’s safe for them to go to school.