Eagle County Schools closed Friday for snow day
EAGLE — Eagle County Schools called a rare snow day for Friday as forecasts called for up to 3 feet of snow in the Vail Valley.
So did Vail Christian High School and Vail Mountain School.
“Out of an abundance of safety for students, families, and staff with the continued heavy snow, strong winds and poor road conditions, all Eagle County Schools will be closed Friday,” the school district said in its annoucement.
Forecasts call for additional accumulations Friday between 11 and 28 inches in some areas, along with strong winds up to 65 mph. The east end of the valley to Red Cliff had already been hit Thursday evening with almost a foot of snow, with more expected overnight. Travel could be very difficult to impossible as blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility.
On safety’s side
The district leadership team started discussing canceling school early Thursday. They spoke with the district’s transportation department, the county and towns, and after an 8 p.m. meeting Thursday, the team decided to call a snow day.
“We wanted to come down on the side of safety and caution. We also wanted to give parents the opportunity to make plans,” Daniel Daugherty, school district chief communications officer said.
Vail Mountain School, the Roaring Fork School District and the Summit County School District also canceled Friday classes.
Lake County, home to the highest school district in North America, has been holding classes since mining began in 1860. It has had a couple of snow days in all of that time. At press time Thursday, Lake County Schools had canceled Thursday’s middle school basketball game and Friday’s middle school ski meet in Keystone, but classes had not yet been called off.
A large percentage of Vail Valley students arrive at school by bus and those buses start rolling out at 6 a.m. That means crews would have to dig out schools before those buses could deliver their precious cargo.
It’s the second straight year that Eagle County Schools has called off school for snow. Last year, that day came on March 4, leading off a month that set records around the state for the snowiest ever recorded.
Local students also had a snow day in 2017. Before that, Eagle County Schools last canceled classes for weather on Feb. 2, 2016. Prior to that, they called snow days on Jan. 30, 2014 and Feb. 8, 2008.
To find the next previous snow days, you have to go all the way back to 1982. Students went to school that day, but it snowed more than a foot between the opening bell and 11 a.m. Students were loaded on the buses and taken home before it became any worse.
A decade or so ago, schools closed when an avalanche closed U.S. Highway 24, and the school district couldn’t bus students around. There was some talk about sending kids from the western end of the valley to school, but in the end, the district closed school for everyone.
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More base areas open means more space for guests to disperse upon, even if those base area openings don’t translate into more actual terrain openings.