Snow Day Protocol Featuring Don Haddad

Interview Dr. Haddad, Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley School District about the standards and the periodicals for a St. Vrain Valley Snow Days.

Dr. Haddad, Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley School District.

St. Vrain Valley

Dr. Haddad, Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley School District.

Morgan Walje, Photographer & Staff Writer

Who else hopes for a snow day when the forecast reads low temperatures and heavy snowfall? Almost every student and even teachers do, some even try to turn their luck around by wearing their pajamas inside out and sleep with a spoon under their pillow, but here is what will really bring you a St. Vrain Valley School District snow day.

Let’s begin with the process; first the district’s weather consultant conducts an in depth review of the forecast. This includes temperature, projected snowfall, windchill, and overall weather conditions to then determine if there is even a possibility of a snow day. The weather consultants and the Superintendent of the St. Vrain Valley School District then makes sure that the buses can run safely along with keeping the power up in the buildings.

“We drive around all district area towns and neighborhoods starting around two in the morning and as we’re all communicating and we’re talking about what the weather looks like in Erie v. Lyons and so on,” as stated by Dr. Don Haddad, St. Vrain Superintendent.

The only time St. Vrain Valley would call a two hour delay is if the snow plows need an extra two hours to clear the streets or if the windchill, temperature etc. Would improve significantly if we delayed by two hours. Two hour delays would most likely put more of a burden on families because parents have to get to work. “The elementary and middle school kids typically start late, so we really shy away from any additional two hour delay,” commented Haddad.  

“We will call school if or when the community shuts down and cars can’t pass freely on the road ways,” added Haddad. The thing about closing school is that most people don’t have the option not to go to work, so they have to leave their kids home alone and while that may not be a problem for older children, when a snow day is called all schools in the St. Vrain Valley School District will be closed, leaving parents the sudden responsibility to find care for their younger children. This being said, safety is always our first priority.

There are very few occasions where there are unsafe conditions to the point where St. Vrain Valley would have to close school. “we always tell parents that regardless of whatever decision we make, we are not taking your decision away from you. There is no consequence if you feel like it is unsafe in your area for your children to come to school. It will be an excused absence,” expressed Haddad.

“Parents have to go to work and kids have to go to school,” acknowledged Haddad. “I invite them to email me or come see me if they have any questions. I have no problem with people disagreeing and expressing their concern. I do not want to take away the power of the parents to make the choice whether to have their child attend school when there is inclement weather. If there is one thing that I want our students, teachers, and staff to know is that your safety is and will always be our top priority. The decision whether to close a school is based on numerous weather related factors and something that we take very seriously.” revolves Haddad.

St. Vrain Valley sends out letters at the beginning of the school year letting families of students know the criteria for snow days and delays, and reminding them that the ultimate decision is always 100 percent theirs.

“I can’t imagine a situation where we close just one school,” remarked Haddad.

St. Vrain Valley wouldn’t close just one school in a certain area because based on enrollment, some kids that go to Erie live in Frederick etc. and a lot of teachers live in a certain area and work in another. Additionally, the buses don’t just serve in one area, they serve multiple areas throughout our district in order to transport kids to various schools.

“I will make the final decision in concert with our Operations and Maintenance Department and Transportation Department in collaboration with city officials. I would look at the factors and then make a final decision based solely on safety” stated Haddad.

“We feel responsible for student safety every day but the truth we unfortunately experience car accidents even when it’s sunny and dry outside especially with young drivers, so safety is something that we never stop thinking about” Haddad reflected.

“There is never a time that I don’t feel responsible for the safety of our kids. That’s why we make sure we have stoplights and the crossing guards for our students that walk to school and School Resources Officers and Counselors in all of our schools and great teachers and staff here to support out students” expressed Haddad.

A rumor got started that somehow St. Vrain Valley gets additional funding from limiting our snow days. This is not accurate as St. Vrain Valley receives their funding in October, it actually costs St. Vrain Valley Schools more money to have school than it would when we call a snow day. “If we were interested in saving money, which is not a consideration in whether or not to cancel school, we would be more likely to call a snow day,” commented Haddad.

Another rumor going around is that St. Vrain Valley will not have snow days to protect our attendance rate. This is not accurate. If protecting our attendance rate was a concern, we would be more likely to cancel school in order to avoid tardies and absences. “I have also heard the rumor that if we don’t have snow days we get bonuses at the end of the year and that is not even remotely true,” interjected Haddad’s assistant Kerri McDermid who is the Executive Director of Communications. “We do not get the day off if school is canceled, our days go from five in the morning to ten at night. There is no day off but when we get to work with kids as amazing as they are, it’s all worth it,” added Haddad.

St. Vrain Valley Schools actually has days built into the calendar if there is a need for a snow day. “Our focus is on student safety;that is it,” stated Haddad.

As much as students and teachers want snow days and express frustration towards the administration or the higher ups for not calling them, they are very aware of the weather conditions and set periodicals and have students and teachers safety and education in mind.

Dr. Haddad’s Tweet on Twitter after interview at Erie High School.

We would like to thank Dr. Haddad, Superintendent of St. Vrain Valley School District and Head of Communications for St. Vrain  Kerri McDermid for taking time out of their day to come to Erie High School and participate in this interview along with answering all of our questions.