Deals on Snow Days at Area Ski Resorts for Students and Teachers

When school closes and you have the proper transportation, you may want to take advantage of the great deals at the area ski resorts.

Appalachian Ski Mountain

Appalachian Ski Mtn. offers special Snow Day rates to students, teachers and staff of all public and private preschools, elementary schools, and high schools when schools are canceled or released early due to snow or inclement weather. Snow Day rates apply to schools in Watauga County and the following adjacent counties: Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Johnson (TN), and Wilkes.

Use code SNOWDAY2020 to activate this special rate for a Flex Ticket, or LOCALSNOW2020 to activate the 9am-5pm ticket on our Online Reservations Platform. Pricing will be reflected on final cart review page of checkout.

 Ski Ticket (9am – 5pm) — $8
8-Hour Flex Ticket  – $10
Ski Rental Package*  — $6
Shape Ski Rental Package*— $10
Standard Snowboard Rental Package*— $15
Burton Learn-To-Ride Snowboard Package*— $18
Ice Skating Package*— $10

If school is rescheduled for Saturday attendance or rescheduled on a Holiday, and canceled due to snow, Snow Day rates do not apply. Snow Day rates apply to tickets and equipment rental sold between 8:30am and 4:00pm. Snow Day rates are not sold for night sessions.

College students are only eligible for the Regional Snow Day Flex Ticket when classes are cancelled for winter weather. Regular rental rates apply to college students.

Students should present a report card or other school ID from one of the listed counties. Teachers and Staff should present a pay stub or other employment identification. Home-school students may present a home-school authorization letter from the NC Department of Non-Public Education along with a parent’s driver’s license confirming the specific county residency. Home-school teachers do not qualify for Snow Day rates.

*Package includes helmet

Sugar Mountain Resort 

Special pricing available to K-12 students and teachers on days that school is cancelled due to winter weather. Pricing available to Ashe, Avery, Mitchell & Watauga counties in North Carolina and Carter & Johnson counties in Tennessee.

College students do not qualify for this special pricing but should refer to the College Discounts page for applicable discounts that may be available for them.

K-12 Student and Teacher Snow Day Pricing
Full Day or Half Slope/Lift Ticket 17
Ski Rentals 10
Snowboard Rentals 21 (deposit required)
Sugar Bear Ski School 58 (Full Day) or 45 (Half Day)
Polar Bear Snowboard School 96 (Full Day) or 58 (Half Day)
Ice Skating 10

Watauga County Schools reminds families of snow day procedures

Elliott stopped to take a photo of this snowy road during the course of a road check last winter.

Elliott stopped to take a photo of this snowy road during the course of a road check last winter.

With winter approaching, Watauga County Schools is reminding parents and families how the school system makes and communicates decisions about school closings and other changes resulting from inclement weather.

With winter weather in mind, it is also important for parents to update and ensure their contact information with their school’s front office is correct. The district will make closing, cancellation, delay and emergency announcements using that information.

Watauga County Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Elliott said, while the system makes every effort to remain open and on a regular schedule, winter weather often forces changes to bus routes and schedules.

“We realize that school schedule changes have a big effect on families.” Elliott said.  We want parents to understand how we make and announce our decisions in response to inclement weather.”

When winter precipitation begins overnight, the process for making decisions about the school schedule kicks off at 3 a.m. when Transportation Director Jeff Lyons gathers updates on current road and weather conditions from local law enforcement, the N.C. Department of Transportation, and the National Weather Service.

Lyons also checks the latest weather forecasts and weather radar. By 3:30 a.m., a road check team composed of Elliott, Lyons and at least four other school personnel begins driving assigned routes to check road conditions throughout Watauga County.  Lyons and Elliott both routinely participate in a morning live conference call with NWS meteorologists in our region at 4:30 a.m.

Over the next 60-90 minutes, members of the road check team complete their routes and report the conditions in their areas. The final decision about school schedules and bus routes is made by the superintendent based on the road checks, information from NCDOT, local law enforcement, and the latest weather forecasts.

That decision is normally made before the first school bus departs on its route at 5:25 a.m. and is promptly announced in seven different ways: a statement at the top of all pages of school websites at www.wataugaschools.org; via local radio and TV stations; by automated phone messages, email, and text messages; via Twitter at @WataugaSchools; and through a recorded snow line message at (828) 264-0200.

If you have questions about the limited bus routes for your school, you can get more information at www.wataugaschools.org/Page/1900. You can also contact the WCS Transportation Department at (828) 264-6391.

Elliott said each year there are times when deciding whether schools can remain open is especially difficult. He said the decision to cancel school must be based on conditions across the entire county, which often vary widely.

“Our buses and student drivers travel over roads ranging from around 1,900 feet of elevation to over 5,500 feet. There will be days when families living in areas with clear roads will wonder why schools are closed. However, we operate as a unified school system, and we have to make a decision based on what is safe for families throughout the county and for our student drivers at the high school.”

Limited school bus routes are used when road conditions are acceptable on more heavily traveled roads but not on all roads. The usual limited route option is named “Limited Routes A.”

A more restrictive limited route option, consisting mostly of numbered U.S. and state highways, is called “Limited Routes B.” Details of both limited route options are available on each school website and printed copies are available on request from a school office.

Elliott stops to take a photo of snowy road during a road check last winter

Schedule changes are based on road conditions across Watauga County.

On very rare occasions, schools may be delayed or closed due to extremely bitter cold even when roads are clear. Very low temperatures, especially if combined with wind, can pose a threat to young children. These conditions also make it difficult to start and operate the diesel fueled school buses that carry about 40 percent of students to school each day.

“Please know we will make the best decisions we possibly can using all the information available at the time, and that the safety of our students, their families, and our employees is our highest priority in making the call,” Elliott said. “We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding as we face the challenges of winter weather in the months ahead.”

When schools are closed for inclement weather, the missed days are made up at a later date.

Holding classes on Saturday to make up missed day is an option after the very first snow day. However, Saturdays will only be used for makeup during a week in which schools have been closed at least one day; there will be no six day weeks.

The plan for making up missed days is available under the calendar heading on the WCS website and a paper copy can be requested from any school office. In making vacation plans, families need to remember that spring break can be shortened or eliminated and that the school year may extend well into June if a severe winter results in frequent school closings.

Watauga County Schools are closed an average of approximately 15 days per year for snow and ice, with wide variation around that average. The number of days missed has ranged from a low of four days in 1990-91 to a peak of 39 days in 1977-78. The system missed seven days for weather last school year.

Parent Meeting Wednesday to Discuss Snow Day Ideas

The following announcement is from the Hardin Park PTO, to explore options and creative ideas to deal with the overload of winter weather we are having.  I have the utmost faith in our educators to make up the learning that has been interrupted by the storms. But it doesn’t hurt to get some new ideas on the table, and take a look at what works, as well as what doesn’t.

Buses with SnowOn Wed, Jan. 19th at 7pm at the Hardin Park cafeteria, parents from Watauga County schools are invited to come together and engage in a workshop/think tank to brainstorm and explore ways to manage our ongoing snow day problem. All are invited. You are welcome to bring kids but no child care will be provided.

The goal will be to develop a list of suggestions for how we can better address our gaps in education on snowy days. A small group of parents will then present a list of recommendations for change to the administration and board. It would be great to hear what ideas you have as we can all work together to promote a positive experience for our children. If you cannot make the meeting, but have ideas to share, please send them by phone (828-964-2618) or email, and we will bring them to the meeting for further development.

Denise Lovin, President, Hardin Park PTO

Also, don’t forget to ask your teacher for extra work to complete on Snow Days, if they haven’t sent one already. Many teachers use the new School Fusion System at www.watauga.k12.nc.us to communicate with parents, so if you don’t know your login, be sure to ask.  There are lots of learning games and resources on your school’s website, so if you have access, utilize it!