Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Night 45° Partly Cloudy
News >  Education

Spokane Public Schools weighs several factors in ‘snow day’ decisions

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 7, 2022

A plow clears sidewalks for commuters early Thursday at the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane.  (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)
A plow clears sidewalks for commuters early Thursday at the Spokane County Courthouse in Spokane. (Tyler Tjomsland/The Spokesman-Review)

As the snowflakes fell early Thursday morning, Spokane Public Schools had several reasons to keep school buildings open.

One of them walked through the front door at Linwood Elementary School and said to no one in particular, “Thanks for having school today, I’m so hungry,” according to Superintendent Adam Swinyard.

The welfare of students is a major consideration before declaring a snow day and shutting buildings, Swinyard said.

“While some may not agree with snow day decisions (whatever they are) they’re made with care. Closing school for 30K students is no small thing,” Swinyard posted on social media.

“School provides a warm place with weekday meals 60%-plus of our students rely on.”

Swinyard also noted that while snow days have little impact on most families, “for others the impact is enormous.”

“For many of our working families, when schools close they have to take a day off and miss a day of pay – that’s a significant hardship,” Swinyard said.

Others might go to work anyway and leave their children unattended.

In addition, Swinyard estimates that about 700 students are homeless.

“School is their safe place,” he said.

While most neighboring districts opted to close for the day, Spokane chose to open, albeit two hours later than normal and with after-school activities canceled.

Among school districts that are at least partially in Spokane County, those that canceled classes were Central Valley, Cheney, Deer Park, Freeman, Liberty, Mead, Medical Lake, Reardan-Edwall, Riverside, Tekoa and West Valley.

Districts in Spokane County that delayed the start of school were East Valley, Rosalia and Spokane.

Nine Mile Falls and Newport school districts operated on a normal schedule , as did Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Lakeland school districts in Kootenai County.

Gonzaga Prep canceled in-person classes but operated online.

Some parents of students in Spokane schools complained on social media that city plow crews were unable to clear many side streets.

They said the resulting delays on some school bus routes scarcely made the delay worth the effort.

The delay allows school buses to properly chain up for slick roads; in the meantime, temperatures will rise.

“We factor in the temperature because we also have to think about how cold it is for students,” Swinyard said. “The safety of our students is our top consideration.”

Parents can keep their students home as an excused absence if they are concerned about the weather, the district said in an early morning message to families.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.