Denver Public Schools spent much of last week telling parents that school would go on as normal this week, even after teachers in Colorado’s largest school district voted to strike.
As it turned out, the snarl in the school day Monday wasn’t picketing teachers but 7 inches of fresh snow. But the district did keep its promise: Classes proceeded as scheduled.
The failure to call a snow day fueled speculation on social media that the decision to keep schools open was a power move by the district.
“@DPSNewsNow being straight petty not calling a (snowflake emoji) day today,” one parent tweeted. “Up to my kids’ knees, but at least we can walk! Still coming down strong. Stay safe, teachers who can’t afford to live in Denver!”
“A snow day probably would have alleviated a little of the #teacherstrike tension by showing you care about the safety of your students and staff @DPSNewsNow,” another person tweeted.
District officials pointed to an inaccurate weather forecast as the reason for not calling a snow day. The storm ended up dumping more snow than predicted. The slippery road conditions caused some parents to keep their children home.
As for the teacher strike, the action was put on hold last week while state officials decide whether to intervene in a dispute between the Denver school district and the teachers union. The two sides disagree on how — and how much — to pay the district’s teachers.
When district staff made the decision at 3:30 a.m. Monday to keep schools open, the forecast was calling for only a few inches of snow, according to district spokesperson Anna Alejo.
“For today’s storm, forecasters said Denver would have 1 to 3 inches of accumulation, and they anticipated the snow would stop by 10 a.m.,” Alejo wrote in an email.
The snow continued through early afternoon.
Neighboring Aurora Public Schools to the east and Jeffco Public Schools to the west didn’t call snow days, either. Alejo noted that in deciding whether to cancel school, Denver Public Schools’ transportation director confers with neighboring school districts, as well as with the Colorado Department of Transportation and city officials responsible for plowing the roads.
“We consider impacts to families and their ability to safely travel,” she wrote. “Schools are not only vital places of learning for students, but they also provide nutrition, health care, counseling, and essential support services. Whenever possible, DPS strives to keep schools open.”