How snow days are decided by school officials - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

How snow days are decided by school officials

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Several school systems were closed or delayed Wednesday and will be closed Thursday as well.

Hamilton County School officials say one of biggest reasons classes were canceled Wednesday was because they weren't sure if all of the school buses would be able to start in frigid early morning temperatures.

"We always want to make sure we are being safe with all of our kids and in this case the weather was not very predictable," said Benjamin Coulter, Hamilton County Schools Transportation Supervisor.

Benjamin Coulter says its never easy making the final decision to declare a snow day.

"We got buses in all kinds of terrain, we have them in curves, on the mountains, in shady spots," said Benjamin Coulter. "It's a challenge."

On average Hamilton County School buses carry more than 20,000 children across 19,000 miles to and from school each day.

"We still had some spots that were icy (Wednesday)," said Coulter, "In some cases, there were some sheets of ice, where the water runs over the road."

Bridges, secondary roadways, and school parking lots were just too risky, explains Coulter.

"Sometimes the roads are fine but if the parking lots are nothing but a sheet of ice ..we're going to have kids slipping and falling while going into school and teachers slipping and falling," said Coulter. "We're concerned about the safety at the bus stops too."

Coulter says the last time the frigid temperatures went into the single digits, 15 buses wouldn't start.  Some even broke down halfway into their route. The ordeal is a major concern for the kids who are outside waiting.

"Anytime you get down into the single digits and below freezing that represents a concern for our schools..we want to make sure all the kids are watched out for," said Coulter.

Hamilton County Schools are closed Thursday. School-age childcare will also be closed. Twelve month employees are to report on a 1-hour delay.

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