Spokane and Coeur d’Alene area school districts and colleges as well as some federal offices and at least one library district are closed today after up to a foot of snow fell in the area overnight.
Community Colleges of Spokane - Spokane Falls Community College, Spokane Community College and the Institute for Extended Learning; Eastern Washington University and Gonzaga University cancelled classes.
Whitworth University was the exception. Early classes were cancelled, but from 9:30 a.m. the schedule was back on track.
First of all, university officials tell students and employees it’s up to them to determine whether they feel safe making the commute, said spokeswoman Emily Proffitt. But other factors also contributed to the decision to remain open. “About 98 percent of our day students live within a mile, there are no classes tomorrow, so we are already losing a day this week and we’re hosting basketball semifinals tonight. We didn’t want to have basketball games, but no classes.”
The major school districts, including Spokane, Mead, West Valley and Central Valley decided to close school, as well as many of the outlying, rural districts, due to snow and extreme cold temperatures.
Closing a school district is not an easy decision, officials say. But this morning, there were several factors that caused safety concerns.
“There was a lack of plowing; the city had not gotten many arterials cleared,” said Nancy Stowell, Spokane Public Schools superintendent. “On the south side, there was concern because of drifting, blowing snow; and the cold weather, so that was a trifecta.”
In Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls districts are among those closed. North Idaho College is also closed.
For a list of most, but not all, closures, click here.
Additionally, the Spokane County Library District has closed its Airway Heights, Cheney, Fairfield and Otis Orchards branches.
Federal courts are closed, as is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Office.
Panhandle Health District offices in Idaho’s five northern counties also are closed today. People with appointments should call Friday to reschedule. The phone numbers are: Benewah (208-245-4556); Bonner (208-263-5159); Boundary (208-267-5558); Kootenai (208-415-5270); Shoshone (208-786-7474).