How do Hamilton County schools decide to close on snow days? - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

SCHOOL PATROL

How do Hamilton County schools decide to close on snow days?

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HAMILTON COUNTY, TN -

Students in Hamilton County got to hit the snooze button for the third day in a row this week because of severe weather.

Thursday was another snow day for Hamilton County and surrounding school districts in our viewing area. However, some people are wondering why there’s no school if no snow is on the ground.

School officials say Hamilton County is geographically diverse, while the roads might not look so bad in some areas, they do in others and they say closing was the right decision.

Gail McConnell is spending time with her four grandchildren while they’re out of school and she understands why.

"Because the weather is cold for children to stand outside and besides that the roads are very slippery,” McConnell said.

However, others are scratching their heads wondering ‘why’ when most of the roads seem just fine.

“We might be able to get 90% of the kids to school safely with no problem, but if there's a chance that just one bus could have a problem then we could have an accident that involves a child then we're not going to take that chance,” Tim Hensley said.

Hensley is Hamilton County School’s Communication Officer, he said each night this week the transportation department checked out known trouble spots on the roads.

The school district takes their own observations and consults with multiple agencies. Channel 3 asked Hensley, why on some days it took so long to call off school?

"The National Weather Service may be telling us, we have a new model coming out in an hour and we'll call you guys back and see what this model has to tell us,” he explained.

So far no makeup days are required. The district has used five of its eight snow days.

"We build time into the school day, about 30 minutes extra on a daily basis to give us enough instructional time to have about 8 days that we can really miss those days and be okay,” Hensley said.

Until the McConnell’s get the green light, they’re going to enjoy the extra time off.

"We're very happy to have our grandchildren with us," she said.

Another concern is bus maintenance, during a winter storm two years ago, 15 school buses wouldn't start because it was just too cold.

Hamilton County schools announced this afternoon that students will return to the classroom Friday morning, January 19.

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