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Challis city worker Cameron Davis used a backhoe to break up ice on the shady side of Main street. The ice built up after 7 inches of snow fell in Challis overnight Jan. 26. So much snow fell that night that Challis schools weren’t open the next day.

Last week’s snow day will not affect the Challis school schedule, Superintendent Lani Rembelski said, which she credited to good foresight.

Several days were included in the calendar for emergencies such as winter weather causing a school cancellation. If all those reserved days get used before the end of the school year, then make-up days will occur on Fridays.

The plan was made in the light of the state’s requirement that school districts have kids in school for a certain number of hours, according to Rembelski.

“We give ourselves plenty of room,” said Rembelski. “Every year we do this when we’re scheduling.”

Rembelski said the decision to cancel school Monday, Jan. 27 was made the day before when a surprise snow storm covered Challis in 7 inches of snow. She and other administrators sent out notices to parents through a robo-call system, social media and notices on radio stations.

Rembelski said it is important to communicate a school closure to parents in particular because the district is so large. She said some students have to travel to Challis from as far as Patterson and Stanley, about an hour’s drive each. Student safety is her primary concern.

“Transportation is the main factor we consider when canceling school,” Rembelski said. “We have such a large district it can be a large mileage between point A and point B.”

Another factor the district considers is the temperature. Rembelski said if the temperature falls to minus 20 or lower, school buses risk problems operating.

“If our transportation can’t pick up our students or drop them off, then that’s a huge consideration,” Rembelski said.

Unexpected challenges like bad weather are made worse with long travel times and country roads, but that comes with the territory of living in a rural district, she said.