Local News

Safety tops reasons for early school dismissals

Posted January 10, 2011

— School administrators say safety and travel concerns prompted their decisions to send students home early Monday in advance of a winter storm expected to drop snow and ice across much of the state.

The Wake County Public School System was one of more than a dozen school districts who decided Sunday to dismiss early.

Obviously, we understand it can be inconvenient,” school district spokesman Greg Thomas said. “But as much notice as possible is our goal in making those calls.”

Part of the reason, Thomas said, had to do with a weather event nearly six years ago that caused major gridlock on roads across Wake County.

Snow started falling unexpectedly in the afternoon on Jan. 19, 2005, leading the school system to close school early.

Parents had little time to make plans, and the influx of vehicles on roads from parents trying to pick up their children from school and employees leaving work early caused traffic issues, leaving school buses and even crews trying to treat roads stuck in traffic.

Some school buses also ended up returning to school so as not to be caught in the chaos.

About a half inch of snow fell during the unexpected event, but about 3,000 students were stranded overnight in schools, and motorists were stuck in traffic for hours.

Safety tops reasons for early school dismissals Safety tops reasons for early school dismissals

“Really, you need to go the conservative, safe route,” Thomas said. “An early dismissal felt like the best thing to do.”

For many working parents, however, the dismissal, no matter how far in advance it is planned, presents complications.

“I work in Morrisville, but the kids’ school is in Wake Forest,” said Lakisha Zagner, a single working mother of two. “I have to make job arrangements, and of course, I’m missing hours of my job. It’s tough.”

“It happens, and you just have to deal with it as a parent, but it definitely is a trial,” said Amy Friedman, a parent of two whose children attend The Raleigh School, an independent elementary school in Raleigh.

Harriet Lasher, who heads The Raleigh School, said she usually follows Wake County's decisions on weather scheduling. While safety is her top priority, she said she understands the decision has a big impact on families.

“First of all, it affects instructional time, and second of all, it's an inconvenience to people, especially when both parents are working,” Lasher said.

Light snow was possible across the Raleigh area Monday afternoon before any precipitation falls in the form of sleet and freezing rain.

Snow fell across parts of western and central North Carolina earlier Monday, dropping anywhere from 3 to 6 inches.

By 7 p.m. Monday, a handful of school systems, including Chatham, Cumberland, Harnett, Hoke, Johnston and Moore, decided to close schools Tuesday. (View a list of complete closings and delays.)

Wake County said schools will be operating on a two-hour delay Tuesday but that transportation officials would be monitoring road conditions overnight.

24 Comments

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  • Bendal1 Jan 11, 1:56 p.m.

    stopandgo clearly was not here when that disaster of an ice storm hit a few years ago. All it took was a week of really cold temperatures, and a forecast of "snow flurries". Except, every snowflake that touched the ground stuck, and when a car ran over them they melted and instantly refroze into a sheet of ice.

    Since it happened right around noon, there was no time to salt the roads, and all the people who were already at work had to try and drive on icy roads to get home. Some in my office took over 12 hours to get home thanks to blocked or icy roads and crashes. I was lucky that day; I'd taken my wife to the dentist so we were already home when the snow hit.

  • delilahk2000 Jan 11, 12:26 p.m.

    STOPANDGO, YOUR COMMENT WAS SO REDICULIOUS. I WAS IN THAT TRAFFIC 6YRS AGO AND IT WAS HORRIBLE, THERE IS NO WAY EVERYDAY DRIVING IS LIKE THAT. YOU NEED TO THINK BEFORE YOU MAKE A ST33ID COMMENT....

  • Fuquay Resident Jan 11, 11:39 a.m.

    It's not just WCPSS ncnremtp, most employeers make their employees take a sick day or a day without pay when they can't make it into work due to snow. You're not working so why should you get a "free day"?

  • ncnremtp Jan 11, 11:02 a.m.

    So the gov declares a "state of emergency" and the DOT says stay off the roads. Why then does WCPSS expect teachers and staff to report today? If they don't report, they are expected to take a sick day or day without pay. Can someone explain that to me??

  • josephlawrence43 Jan 11, 9:35 a.m.

    apparently no one is concerned with the safety of the teachers/staff...

  • IceCreamMan Jan 10, 7:42 p.m.

    Overprotective parents alert!!!

  • taylor3297 Jan 10, 7:42 p.m.

    StopandGo you must not have been here in 2005. It wasn't an accident, but a quick onset of ice coating the roads. It was a total mess.

  • Ladybug Jan 10, 7:19 p.m.

    I just heard on WRAL that Wake Co. schools are opening 2 hrs late tomorrow. Do they really think the "ICE" will be melted. I wouldn't put my child on a bus and I certainly don't plan to get out in my vehicle either. They are calling for ice tomorrow and Wed. morning and with the temps below freezing, it will take a while for the ice to melt, especially on the backroads and subdivisions.

  • StopAndGo Jan 10, 7:17 p.m.

    They cancel school because worrying about an accident in 2005? They should cancel school every day since accidents are everywhere on each single day.

  • avidreader Jan 10, 6:42 p.m.

    I had much rather they err on the side of safety. What parent in their right mind would want to take the chance of the same thing happening that happened in 2005? I would have been sick with worry knowing my child was out on the highway stuck on a bus for hours. People need to think of their children first, themselves last - that's what a parent does.

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