Chance of snow days

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Calling off today’s classes was an easy decision for school superintendents in the region. Gov. Pat McCrory declared a state of emergency and everyone braced themselves Monday for a frigid coating of snow and ice.

Now, what about Wednesday’s classes?

That decision might be obvious, too. In case it isn’t, here’s a refresher on what Superintendent Lynn Moody wrote in a recent column about what she called “one of the most challenging responsibilities of a superintendent” — making the call on whether to cancel classes due to inclement weather.

Every family’s situation is different. The majority of children in the school system are on free or reduced lunch; school lunch might be their best meal of the day. And schools are warm. On the other hand, working parents may lose wages if school is called off and they have to stay home and mind the kids.

But the No. 1 factor is safety. Are roads so unsafe that students’ lives would be in danger while traveling to school? Here’s an excerpt from Moody’s column:

“I try to make the decision as early as possible to give families time to plan, but often weather changes overnight. Because our district has a large geographic area and our school buses run dual routes, drivers start preparing to ‘crank the engines’ as early as 5 a.m. This is much earlier than many of our neighboring school districts and why not all districts make the same call.

“Once our 189 school buses are on the road, it takes approximately two hours to turn our buses around. This is before the sun comes up, which means we have limited visibility and the weather often changes quickly when the sun begins to rise.

“The bottom line is that many changes in weather happen between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. I encourage everyone to always make decisions that are best for the safety of you and your child. If you feel it is unsafe, please keep your child at home. We will work with you in determining if a child is considered absent or tardy and to help make up any missed schoolwork.”

Let’s exercise some understanding. These are tough decisions, with a 50 percent chance of precipitating blowback.