Snow day closes schools: How teachers and students celebrated (or didn’t)
Feb 26, 2019 01:24PM
● By Heather Lawrence
Snow is plowed off walkways at Oakwood Elementary. (Photo courtesy Tod Cracroft)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
It’s every kid’s dream come true: school is cancelled due to snow. After the massive snowstorm that blanketed the Salt Lake Valley began on Feb. 5, it was apparent the safety of students getting to and from school was compromised, and a snow day was called for Feb. 6.
“All Granite District schools are closed on Wednesday, Feb. 6 due to significant snow accumulation, which has hampered our transportation and maintenance departments’ ability to start,” was the message sent out by Ben Horsley, director of communications for GSD.
Principals and staff were asked to be at school in case any students showed up. Skyline Assistant Principal Lynda Tierney simply said, “It was not a snow day for administration. Regular work day for us.”
Skyline social studies teacher Brodie Reid was at school; that is, after his hour-long commute from Sandy. “Worst roads I can remember. I made it to the Eagles’ Nest just in time to get the message that school was cancelled,” Reid said.
Being at school without all the students “was certainly weird — it felt like the Twilight Zone, but Skyline has been my second home since the 1990s. It ended up being a very productive day planning curriculum,” said Reid.
One common thread from all GSD employees was gratitude for the facilities staff who worked all day clearing the snow. “I would like to thank the custodial staff — Gerry Hutchins and his crew — for their hard work. They do a fantastic job,” said Reid.
Cris Bromley works in the office at Churchill Jr. High and was at school all day. “Our custodian, Lee Leafty, should really be recognized for going above and beyond. Lee showed up at 2:30 a.m. and spent until 3:00 p.m. moving snow,” Bromley said.
Bromley said she could only remember one other snow day in the 29 years she’s been with GSD.
To get the word out, most schools used online messaging in addition to their phone bank. “We had only one student show up for school. We had four teachers show up and they worked most of the day,” said Bromley.
Olympus High Principal Steve Perschon thought it was a good decision. “With young drivers, I think it was a great decision to keep them safe and avoid more accidents,” said Perschon.
Susan Thomas at the Utah School for the Deaf and Blind (USDB) said their social media notices were successful. “Now that USDB has developed a strong community on social media, and (with) the new www.usdb.org website designed during the past year, the snow day alerts went better than ever!” Thomas said.
Principal Paulette McMillan of Cottonwood Elementary said, “When I arrived at school, I began making phone calls to see if the word had gotten out. Everyone I called said that they had received the message. That was a huge relief! I did not have one child show up at school nor did I receive one phone call all day.”
During her hour-and-a-half commute, she saw several families digging their way out of their driveways. “I would like to thank my custodian, Michael Perry, for his diligence and monumental effort to get snow cleared from our campus,” said McMillan.
The only teacher who had a hard time was Ben Torgerson of Wasatch Jr. High. But that wasn’t because of GSD — it was because his kids are in Alpine School District, the only area district that didn’t cancel school that day.
As for the kids’ snow day dream come true, many of them spent the day out playing in the snow. “I know the kids and parents enjoyed sledding on the back hill at Churchill. It seems like they were here most of the day,” said Bromley.
Crestview Elementary parent Steph Strasser said her kids tried “snow swimming” in the backyard. When that didn’t work, they joined the many kids sledding at Sugar House Park.
Oakwood Elementary Principal Tod Cracroft said a snow day can be fun for staff, too, if they have a sense of humor.
“Several of my principal friends created social media posts showing humorous situations: mixing up books in the library, napping, dancing on the snowy playground while the theme from ‘Frozen’ played in the background. Really funny stuff,” said Cracroft.
His contribution? “I made a video and changed the lyrics to our Friday song to communicate our snow day circumstance and invite students back for Thursday,” said Cracroft. You can watch him play and sing at www.facebook.com/OakwoodElementary.