There has been much talk and we have received several inquiries about the unusual circumstances that caused us to have both a late arrival AND an early dismissal for secondary students only on Wednesday, January 30, 2019. We thought it might be helpful if we shared a bit more detail about the thinking behind these two decisions.
The late arrival was intended to provide more time to both town DPW and our own Operations and Maintenance crews to clear roadways and parking lots for a smooth beginning of school in the morning. The delay also insured that drivers of both buses and cars would have the benefit of daylight for their travels to school.
The reason that secondary schools were dismissed early and elementary schools stuck to their regular dismissal was dictated mostly by the predicted arrival of an intense snow squall at 2 PM in the afternoon. We wanted to avoid having anyone travel during the predicted squall, due to the likely poor visibility (white outs) and the risk that road conditions might quickly deteriorate. We tried to get secondary students out before that weather event, and we held our regular elementary dismissal at 3:15 PM because the squall should have ended by then. The likelihood that this squall event would occur continued to increase through the morning. In addition to getting students home safely, we are also mindful to ensure that they are fed. Because of the late arrival, we couldn’t get all of our secondary students through the lunch lines until 1 o’clock. That still allowed them to get home before the storm, but it would have put elementary students in the middle of that storm if we had also conducted an early dismissal at the elementary level. We alerted the elementary schools that if need be, we would delay elementary bus departures should the squall still be underway, or if reports of its aftermath be problematic.
Decisions about closures, delays, early releases, and afterschool activity cancellations are all complicated ones. We are taking many pieces of information into consideration and communicating with multiple players within our district and with district partners like Birnie Bus and town DPW Supervisors. While it may not be evident to you, please know that we take particular care to make decisions that are both well-informed and which place student safety as our most important consideration.