6 decades, no snow days: School district clocks 61 years without snow cancellation

An Iron County School District bus forges through the snow, Cedar City, Utah, Feb. 23, 2015 | Photo by Carin Miller, St. George News

CEDAR CITY – Despite Iron County typically being a snowy place in winter, it’s been more than 60 years since the Iron County School District has cancelled school due to a “snow day.”

We don’t have snow days here. If the buses are able to travel, we have school,” Jennifer Wood, director of secondary education for Iron County School District, said. “As long as I’ve been in the district – this is my 11th year – we haven’t had a snow day.”

And the district’s no-snow-day history goes back much further than that. Wood’s father, former superintendent J. Clair Morris, began working for the Iron County School District in 1954. During his tenure, school was never cancelled once because of snow, Wood said. Current ICSD Business Manager Kent Peterson, who was hired by Morris 40 years ago, also said he can’t recall any snow day cancellations during his time with the district.

Between the two men, Wood said, six decades can be chronicled without school being cancelled once in Iron County due to snow.

“We have 61 years there without a snow day that we can verify,” Wood said.

ICSD doesn’t even have a policy regarding snow cancellations, she said; the district simply doesn’t do snow days.

“If it’s just snow, we don’t cancel school,” Wood said.

If there was a physical emergency at a school caused by snowy weather, such as the power being out or a water break, then school would be canceled at that facility until the problem was fixed, she said. Otherwise, parents and bus drivers just proceed carefully while transporting their kids to and from school in the snow.

Not all parents are thrilled about this lack of a snow day policy on ICSD’s part. Mainly, complaints come in from people who have moved into the county from places that don’t often get snow, like Southern California, Wood said. Transplants to the area are often shocked to find out school isn’t being canceled when there is heavy snowfall.

“More than anything, they want to know is there school today, and we always say ‘yes,’” Wood said.

Once complainers are told the school district never has snow days, they generally don’t call back about it again, she said.

So far, snow-related school bus accidents are a rarity in Iron County. Wood said she doesn’t know when the last weather-related bus accident happened in the district – or whether there have been any snow-related school bus accidents in Iron County – but in recent history, at least, the district’s record is clean, according to information from the ICSD Transportation Department.

Monday brought with it the first big snowstorm Cedar City has seen since Christmas – interrupting a pattern of spring-like weather, Wood said. A couple of ICSD buses did have difficulty traveling up Royal Hunte Drive in Cedar City Monday due to slick roads, according to information from the district’s Transportation Department, but everybody eventually got to their destinations safely.

“We had no accidents, no children hurt,” Wood said. “It was a little slow going for some people in their cars, that’s true – driving their kids to school.”

The most recently documented ICSD school bus accident occurred in 2013, but it was not weather-related.

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