Schools across the viewing area canceled class in anticipation of the inclement weather. Some schools did the wait and see approach, while others called off classes before the first snowflake arrived.
For McMinn County Superintendent Mickey Blevins, snow days are among his biggest headaches. “Start with the weather predictions, get with emergency dispatch, and then directors talk to each other.”
On the day of the expected storm Blevins and his transportation crew evaluate current area roadways. They're out on the road as early as 4am to see the roads for themselves. They also watch the forecast carefully, to determine how much snow could fall by the time the school day ends. “We felt pretty confident that it would be after 5pm. So we decided to have school, when some other districts decided to close.”
But in Hamilton County, school officials wanted to avoid any potential chaos while school was in session. They called off classes long in advance, so parents could make necessary arrangements.
“Have time to get a babysitter or call into work,” said Hamilton County School District Communication Coordinator Amy Katcher.
Hamilton County officials have the additional challenge of planning for a large geographic area that includes rural and urban schools. They send out test drivers to check the roads throughout the county. “We got city schools that we know they'll be treated and not a problem. But we also got mountain schools.”
Whatever decision school administrators make, they said their number one priority is always the students.
“I'd rather be safe than sorry,” said Blevins.
“So much uncertainty with this system it was a really tough call to make. But we wanted to err on the side of caution. The student's safety is our number 1 priority,” said Katcher.
If a cancellation is in order, the district notifies busing companies no later than 5:15am. Then notifications go out to parents via phone call, text and email.