It's SNOWING! (Do I Have to Go to School?)

by Vera Jirnov

Snow days at Ouray School feel to students like miracles. No one ever expects one, so it is a big surprise when one is called. On Wednesday, January 18, it snowed like crazy from six until ten in the morning, and the students all asked, “Why isn’t today a snow day?” There were reasons.

According to the Colorado Snow Survey homepage, snowpack is currently at 133% of average, and yet no snow days have been called this year. Students question if snow days should be called more often. While students might not realize it, Superintendent Tod Lokey does have a clear strategy for determining when a snow day is really needed.

Some students experience difficulties on snowy mornings. Sophomore Lis Ray said, “last week it was hard for us to get to school cause we barely got out of our driveway.” Lis was able to get to school on time because she left home an hour earlier than usual since her mom works at the school.

Freshman Brooke Edder experienced a similar problem. “Our road never gets plowed,” she said. Brooke lives about ten minutes from school and said that “the roads were unsafe.”

Some students live even farther away. Freshman Caleb Schoonover, for instance, commutes from Montrose, and complained that “it was just a blizzard all day long.” 

But according to Mr. Lokey, it is difficult to determine if a snow day truly needs to be called. He said, I “watch the weather several days in advance and coordinate with our maintenance director, Mr. Nickerson.” He also finds out “whether or not, in the morning, the city and the county can maintain the roads for the bus route.”

 Mr Lokey also mentioned that it is important to find out “if the school can have the parking lots and sidewalks cleared and the buses ready to run the route.” 

He said that “if we have plowed roads, clear buses, and cleared parking lots, we’re good to have school.” He said that the school is allotted about 4 snow days per year, if needed, but can take more if necessary, since “the state is understanding” of the intensity of the weather we face here in the mountains.

Still, he is never eager to call a snow day. “If we can open school,” he said, “it is a service to the community.”

This attitude is in contrast to the desires of students, of course, who yearn for snow days, since they create such good memories. Brooke looked back on sledding with her mom, and Lis also relishes spending time with her family. 

All the students I interviewed mentioned another great use of snow days: homework. Brooke said that these days are a great time to “catch up on any work I missed.”

Students agreed that they treat snow days as mental health days. “I think snow days are good for mental readjusting,” said Lis. “Just having a day to yourself is really nice sometimes.”