Blizzard Prompts School Closures Across Flathead Valley

With few exceptions, public and private schools in Flathead County either canceled classes or implemented remote learning lessons Thursday due to impassable road conditions

By Beacon Staff
A winter storm bears down on drivers along U.S. Hwy 93 on Jan. 17, 2024. Hunter D'Antuono | Flathead Beacon

As Flathead County residents emerged from beneath nearly a foot of new snow that blanketed the valley following Wednesday’s blizzard, public and private schools across the region canceled classes or implemented remote learning plans as dangerous or unknown road conditions persisted into Thursday morning.

“Due to impassable and unknown road conditions for many of our bus routes, Kalispell public schools will be remote instruction today. Our top priority is to ensure our students and staff are safe,” according to a statement from Randy Cline, interim superintendent of Kalispell Public Schools (KPS), one of the numerous districts that announced closures early Thursday. “We work very hard to avoid school closures as it is difficult on students, families, and staff. Please know that the safety of our students and staff remains our top priority.”

Other public school closures include Columbia Falls, Creston, Deer Park, Evergreen, Fair-Mont-Egan, Helena Flats, Kila, Marion, Olney-Bissell, Pleasant Valley, Smith Valley, Somers/Lakeside, Swan River, West Glacier, and West Valley. Schools in Bigfork and Cayuse Prairie announced a two-hour late start.

Private schools that announced closures include Kalispell Montessori, Stillwater Christian, Trinity Lutheran, Whitefish Christian Academy, Woodland Montessori, and Oneschool Global North America, which implemented remote learning.

The school closures come in the aftermath of Wednesday’s blizzard, which was severe and sustained enough that the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a warning Wednesday morning. The blizzard warning came after the weather service already issued a winter storm warning for the area showing accumulations of between 8 and 14 inches of snow, and winds gusting as high as 45 miles per hour. That winter storm warning is set to expire at 11 a.m. Thursday.

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