Canceling school ahead of snow was the right call

January 29, 2014 

We waited. And waited. Perhaps the snowfall forecast was off. Or maybe the winds had shifted and the Triangle once again would escape a “weather event.”

All day Tuesday, people waited for the 3 to 5 inches of snow that were forecast.

Wake County school officials took no chances. They called off school for Tuesday. Other districts made arrangements to send kids home early.

Ah, hindsight. The snowstorm didn’t get here on time, and some parents grumbled that they’d had to rearrange their schedules to deal with the school situation.

The griping doesn’t give school officials the credit they deserve. When school is canceled, it necessitates calendar alterations for everyone, so the system can meet the annual requirement for 185 days of classes or 1,025 hours of instruction. Calling things off isn’t something school officials take lightly.

And safety should be the primary concern. There are 950 buses in Wake, with 75,000 riders. In January 2005, a little ice in the afternoon caused traffic jams that created a nightmare that forced 3,000 students to spend the night at school. Officials have to consider the potential consequences of closing and not closing and the risks for all those buses. And they know they must err, not that they did err, on the side of safety.

It’s far better for a snowfall not to arrive and a day of school to be unnecessarily lost than it is for a bus to skid on the road and for children to be injured. In Georgia, the storm caught schools off-guard and students were stuck on buses or stayed overnight in schools.

Second-guessing the decision of school officials is easy. The decision they have to make is not. It’s a tough call. They made the right one.

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