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District 49 makes decisions to preserve student and adult safety during inclement weather. Winters in the Pikes Peak region are full of surprises, especially in District 49, which spans 133 square miles of suburban and rural terrain. Outdoor temperatures often plummet, sometimes turning a wet-but-warm 60-degree winter thaw into a dangerous slip and slide. While some areas might escape heavy snowfall, others might become dangerous as gusting winds produce drifts. Each year as winter weather arrives, District 49 leaders implement a comprehensive process to monitor local conditions and decide weather delays or closure.
We offer several options for getting notifications about delays and closures. Anyone in our community can explain their opinion about a weather-related call by completing the Winter Weather Communications Survey, which opens after each call is made.
Remember, every parent, based on local conditions, retains the right to decide when it's unsafe to send their child to school.
Closure and Delay Q & A
Yes. Parents make the final call for each student's safety.
Per board policy (EBCE-R), parents are asked to help make decisions regarding their own child. If, in a parent’s judgment, it is too hazardous to send their child to school, the child should be kept at home. The child will not be penalized for his or her absence or tardiness and will be given ample opportunity to make up missed assignments. When inclement weather causes bad road conditions, a parent may waive an absence by contacting their student's school to report the absence as weather related.
We begin to announce and broadcast our decision at approximately 4:45 a.m.
Often we make the final weather call early in the morning the day of a delay or closure. But when the forecast is severe enough, we may issue a decision the night before. When conditions are uncertain and further observations are necessary, ground crews start evaluating road conditions at midnight, and then the transportation team begins a comprehensive review at about 2 a.m. The determination to close the district is always made by 5 a.m., and often by 4:30 a.m. We make our decision as early as possible in recognition that parents, students, and staff need time to adjust to the schedule change. In addition, the transportation department must cancel or delay bus routes, which typically begin picking up students at around 5:45 a.m. When we delay and continue monitoring it is to review plowing progress and road conditions between 5-6AM and make a close or proceed decision by 6AM. We do not send additional messaging if we proceed on the delay schedule. If we do decide to close, we will announce that decision via all our standard channels (the D49 website, FB, Twitter and local media) no later than 6:30 AM. So, if you don't see a closure by 6:30 AM, we are operating on a delay schedule. And since mountain regions often produce unstable weather, conditions may rapidly deteriorate or improve after the district makes its final call.
Yes. We consider cars, other types of private vehicles, school buses, and maintenance equipment.
District leaders expect bus drivers to transport children safely to and from school, so the district only remains open when the transportation team is confident that bus drivers can complete their routes with no accidents. While assessing road conditions, the district's ground crews and transportation team know there are more than just buses transporting students on the roads. They consider that some people choose to drive vehicles that are difficult to operate, such as models with rear-wheel drive or older cars with balding tires. If a parent's vehicle is unsafe to drive given their local road conditions, they can take advantage of the district's busing services, or excuse their student's absence. When weather patterns deteriorate quickly, we trust everyone to drive their vehicles with care by maintaining appropriate distances, operating at reasonable speeds and staying alert.
If roads are safe, schools stay open... unless it gets dangerously cold.
Safety is never just about wind chill. Mix up the right combination of temperature, humidity and wind in the atmosphere, and we can get icing conditions at 30 degrees Fahrenheit and above. What's more, sometimes, conditions can go from safe to icy in less than an hour. Some areas in our district change faster than others. Since we must delay or close school almost three hours before the first class, there is plenty of opportunity to make a good faith decision that turns out wrong. We do our best to err on the side of safety. When temperatures plummet, we pay attention to the thermometer, barometer, anemometer, and any other ‘ometers that can help us predict the weather. When the combination of ambient temperature and wind speed pushes the effective temperature (wind chill) down to –18 degrees, we know we are in the danger zone for frostbite. Once the windchill nears –18 degrees, we know that exposed skin can suffer frostbite in 30 minutes. Cold weather sweeping in with humidity, snow, ice and winds, our decision is fairly straightforward. Cold weather is one of the factors in our decision about what constitutes unsafe conditions. We encourage you to use the National Weather Service's online chart and calculator to explore and calculate wind chills, so you can make informed decisions before your family heads outside and into cold weather.
The most important factor is our observation or reasonable forecast of dangerous driving conditions.
The district is focused on ensuring students receive as much in-classroom opportunity as possible. Prior to delaying or canceling a day of educational services, the transportation team considers many factors and consults with many resources. The team works to make the best judgment call for our part of El Paso County. Two-hour delays are helpful when there's a foreseeable change, such as rapidly warming conditions. When a two-hour delay is deemed most appropriate, everything is postponed two hours, unless parents are specifically notified about an activity by their school. As always, parents are asked to keep in contact with their school's administration for updates on programs, such as the rescheduling of activities.
Closing by zone is logistically challenging and many of our students and stakeholders travel between zones.
There are several issues that make closing by zone difficult. For one, the district provides a portfolio of schools across its four zones to ensure every student finds great opportunities. With choice enrollments, a student may live in one zone but attend a school in another zone. What's more, the district operates a centralized dispatch center and bus depot, which means drivers and support personnel must travel between zones.
When a two-hour delay is announced, full-day kindergarten is delayed similar to first-12th grades.
Your bus stop time is exactly two hours later than your regular bus stop time.