Granite School District releases weather closure procedures and introduces free appFeb 03, 2023 08:24AM ● By Lizzie Walje
Snow is cleared off the walkway in 2019 at Oakcrest Elementary. (File photo courtesy Tod Cracroft)
Here in Utah, our infrastructure is equipped to handle the rapid onset of winter conditions with relative ease. However, when should safety take precedence over school attendance, and how can school weather protocol keep families and students safe? This year, Granite School District has outlined its own protocols and procedures.
In a statement on its website, the district made it clear that keeping schools open is a top priority. “First and foremost, please know that Granite School District aims to keep schools open whenever possible. Snowstorms are a reality in the Salt Lake Valley, and though winter weather may present challenges, school closures or delays are rare.”
Furthermore, the district takes efforts through social media postings, text messaging, and other platforms to keep students updated on any closures. The district does its part to keep students apprised, however, it is best to assume that schools will remain open even during storms and other disruptive weather.
The district works hard to maintain a tight and functioning bus schedule that ensures students arrive at school on time. However, weather can cause unexpected delays, which is why the district relies on the mobile application, “Here Comes the Bus.” The app, available on Google Play and the App Store, provides information regarding the whereabouts of your bus, including its real-time location. The application also provides scheduled and actual arrival times for both home and school routes and sends out push and email notifications when a bus is near.
Signing up for the application is simple, and Granite School District provides step-by-step instructions and troubleshooting on its website for those who are interested in utilizing the app. The application is both free and user-friendly, making it easy for students to navigate.
While schools aim to operate during snowstorms both major and minor, there are always exceptions and other factors to consider. Ultimately, it should be up to parents to determine if conditions are safe.
“We trust parents to make the ultimate call when it comes to their child’s safety. Not all streets are plowed at the same time, and snow totals may differ from region to region. If you do not think it is safe to send or take your kids to school during inclement weather, please keep them home. School officials will be lenient regarding tardiness and absences during winter weather,” the district stated on social media.
The district works to prepare for any inclement weather in the forecast and is equipped to utilize virtual learning in the event of a school closure. Thankfully, in recent years, virtual learning has become a viable alternative in the event that in-person learning needs to be temporarily halted.
The district also acknowledges that its desire to stay open isn’t just for academic purposes. “Like any public service, people count on schools to remain open, and there are many services we provide beyond education,” the memo says and then goes on to state that students rely on schools staying open for multiple reasons. First and foremost, many working parents and families do not have the luxury of drastically shifting their schedules, and often have to risk leaving their children unsupervised or missing work.
Another reason why Granite District Schools aim to stay open? Food security. More than half of the district’s students rely on their neighborhood school for breakfast and lunch. Students may risk not having their nutritional needs met in the event of closures. Finally, schools often provide a warm and safe environment for students in the cooler months.
As previously mentioned, the district will aim to be lenient during major storms and extreme weather. Especially considering that many Granite School District institutions are located on or by major roadways and highways that are often impacted the most by delays. The district also aims to mitigate automobile congestion by limiting emergency late starts. These late starts are often the culprit of an increased vehicle pileup.
Unless you receive notice from the district, and/or your child’s specific school it is best to assume that classes will be in session. To learn more about opting in on push notifications and other helpful alerts, the district has outlined how to do so on its website. Assuming it’s routinely updated, social media is also a good place to check for any emergency information. Above all else, prioritize your own safety and use discretion when navigating the roads. Even smaller-scale storms and weather can prove disastrous if not carefully navigated.