School snow delays -- Part 2
Many of your comments about the wisdom of opening schools late on Friday because of snow served to solidify my thinking that complainers should give it a rest. In fact, I wish I had thought about some of the points you made.
Hours after the snow stopped falling I wrote that school systems make decisions to open late or close schools out of legitimate safety and staffing concerns. Sometimes they blow the decisions but I’d rather they err on the side of caution.
My esteemed colleague Jay Mathews took the other point of view, saying that precious instructional time was being given short shrift.
The first of dozens of comments was from jckdoors, who said, “Sorry, Val, but you’re wrong. Rarely is a snowfall a surprise anymore. Plan for it. This really has become a ridiculous situation.”
I thank IndolentCin for responding:
“The problem is that even if they know it’s coming, they can’t plan for it because we don’t get enough snow often enough to have the resources to deal with it like Pittsburgh, or Providence, or wherever gets a ton of snow every year. I live in PG county (also a huge county), and my daughter is riding a bus for the first time this year. Neither she nor I have complete confidence in the drivers (sorry, but there it is), so any extra precaution in this area I find not to be a bad thing. And no, I am NOT an over-protective parent. In fact, a lot of the helicopter parents I know are horrified by me at times because I’m not. But I am careful.”
I tend to agree with some of you who think school principals should have leeway to keep neighborhood schools open if they think they can be safely staffed and kids could get to school (though that would mean a change in the bus system). But right now most can’t, and we have to deal with what IS, not what we wish it to be.
Thanks to everyone who joined the conversation. Here are additional reasons some of you gave to support the late openings (some of them are excerpts of your comments):
Posted by enewton: My daughter rides the bus however she has to walk to a little ways to get to the bus stop. Though it was not much snow this morning the sidewalks, steps, etc were very icy even when we were leaving 2 hours later than usual. Not to mention the children who walk to school.
Posted by email@example.com: I support the delay in Fairfax County for one reason: daylight. My high schooler has to walk two blocks to catch the bus at 6:30 AM. He can’t see the sidewalk to miss the snow and ice at that time of day. My middle schooler has to cross the main road in our subdivision to catch his bus at 7:20. The two-hour delay allows them to catch their buses in daylight, rather than dark. If the SLEEP advocates had persuaded the school board to go to later starts, I’d say the delay was ridiculous. But in the dark, in the ice, I’m glad FCPS made this call.
Posted by mgribben: I would normally be on the side of you could go to school on time today. But, my car slipped and slid in my neighborhood in North Prince George’s County (adjoining Southeast Montgomery County) as I drove my daughter to school at about 10-10:30am. I thought traffic would be light because most people would already be at work. I was flat out wrong. Traffic was miserable and I saw about half a dozen emergency vehicles along the way. One was struggling to get through 4 jam-packed lanes of traffic on the beltway at 10 o’clock in the morning! I think the conditions were worse than they appeared on the surface.
Posted by TwoSons: I’m from the north so snow isn’t a big deal. But aren’t we talking about 300,000 students (MoCo & PGC combined) and a the vast majority of them ride the school bus? So...it’s okay to put this volume of children on sidewalks (with patches ice underneath) to get to their bus stops, school buses on untreated snow covered roads, while snowing and within zero below temperatures, and the dark?? (which is the case for most high schoolers) instead of waiting just a couple of hours for most if not all of these safety hazards minimized?
Posted by BamBamRubble: Our roads are never more than a couple of accidents away from gridlock on a good day. Add a couple of inches of snow or ice without subtracting the school buses, teachers, and parents driving their children to school, and you are asking for trouble. The school delays help EVERYONE who has to commute by spreading out the traffic over a longer period of time.
Posted by jzsartucci: Don’t forget to include a big factor in clearing the snow. There are 551 classrooms that are outside of the school buildings in Montgomery County. They are called classroom trailers and they have multiplied under Superintendent Weast.
Each of the walkways and ramps to those 551 classrooms has to be separately shoveled. That takes time. Even when the parking lots and roads are clear, the schools can’t be opened until the paths to the outside classrooms are shoveled.
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Posted by: SeaTigr | January 11, 2010 1:03 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: mrscopeland | January 11, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse
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