Snow Day Decision Process

Stay open, call a snow day or start school later? 

When bad weather hits, here's how the decision about schools is made.


Transportation, road conditions primary factors for a snow day

When PSD gets a weather advisory from the National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association or Emergency Management Services about a storm, PSD sets a plan around the predicted weather issue. Contrary to what people think, calling a snow day is mostly about transportation and road conditions, not the amount of snow.

PSD staff monitor the weather, test road conditions and talk with others in the region 

  • Dedicated staff members monitor temperatures and live-video feeds from cameras across the region. 
  • PSD transportation drivers test the roads, starting around midnight by driving over the roughly 1,800-square-mile district from Red Feather Lakes to Wellington to Windsor, reporting road conditions. 
  • Conference call to discuss weather reports and plow schedules: About 4:30 a.m., the PSD superintendent, the executive director of operations and the director of transportation join a conference call with representatives of Colorado State University, the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County and emergency management and response services to discuss the weather/storm.


Making the decision for PSD

Before making a decision, the superintendent typically consults with the executive director of operations on factors like:

  • Timing of snow removal in parking lots
  • How buses will do on the roads
  • If plows can get to the main roads in time
  • Outside temperatures for students waiting for a bus or walking to school

While safety of kids is paramount, the superintendent balances that with the importance of students being able to go to school to learn and access critical services, such as breakfast and lunch services through the PSD Child Nutrition Department.

  • The decision may have one of these outcomes: stay open, delay start by two hours or close (for details on these options, visit the Inclement Weather Procedures web page).
    • If schools remain open, students and staff go to school as usual.
    • If the decision is to delay the start of school or close, the superintendent calls the PSD communications team, who notify parents, staff and local media of the delay/closure. This usually happens by 5:30 a.m. so calls, emails, social media posts and texts go out before kids and staff leave for school.
    • When weather conditions develop during the school day, afternoon activities and athletics may be canceled or cause an early release from school. Information about school closures, delayed starts and early releases is always posted to the district website as another way to reach people.
  • It is possible that the PSD Mountain Schools -- Livermore, Red Feather and Stove Prairie elementary schools -- may have a snow day or delayed start when the rest of the district does not. If that occurs, PSD communicates directly with parents/guardians of students at those schools. Communication does not go out to the entire district.

PSD always uses student and staff safety as the guiding principle when making weather-related school decisions, which are often not agreed on by everyone. Parents who don’t feel it is safe to send their child to school, may always opt to keep them at home. 

Contact Information

Questions about the process?