Today’s school closings and openings: Sometimes, you can’t win

No matter if schools closed or opened today, there were unhappy parents and teachers.

School districts are criticized when they close and when they open. (AJC photo)

School districts are criticized when they close and when they open. (AJC photo)

Deciding when to close Georgia schools due to weather is an imprecise science. Fulton closed Friday, much to the chagrin of parents since the day turned out to be mild. Dozens of unhappy Fulton parents took to Facebook Friday to vent about the decision and the 11 p.m. alert.

Among the comments:

It was crazy late. My friend’s husband was standing at the bus stop with their 2nd grader this morning….a stranger had to tell them school was cancelled.”

Closing the school after 11 pm? Ridiculous. We drove our kids to school and had to turn around and find childcare.”

“Such a joke! What weather report did these people see? I looked at all of the weather reports and at best Atlanta will see some form of precipitation late tonight or tomorrow morning. Having to find someone to watch the kids last minute while I go to work is so unfair when the other counties around us like DeKalb all have school. Because of their terrible mistake last year of not cancelling school when epic snow was actually forecast now has caused them to be way to reactive and quick to close down when, except for being chilly, it’s a lovely day outside. Poor leadership at its best.”

Today, Cobb, Forsyth and Cherokee closed. My kids went to school in Decatur, as did kids in Gwinnett, DeKalb, Fulton, APS and Clayton.

Proving school officials cannot win, Fulton’s decision to open this morning prompted Facebook postings of snow-covered driveways and roads by people who felt schools should have been closed.

In Cobb, school officials called for a two-hour delay before 7 a.m, but, at about 8:45 a.m., decided to close. (Marietta closed its elementary schools but Marietta Middle School and Marietta High School are open, according to the district website.)

A Cobb parent sent the AJC this note. When she sent it, she was unaware Cobb, in fact, did close its schools.

Here is her note:

“Today all the moms in Cobb County are furious. I just got the phone call that schools were delayed by two hours at 7:13 am — my kids are usually at school by then.

I got a text message from CCSD at 6:55, which is when the school bus usually gets to our subdivision. There are kids waiting out in the snow for school buses that are not coming.

Some kids even are out on school buses already! AND the announcement on CCSD website had the WRONG DATE on it, causing confusion!

There is a lot of snow so it is good the schools are delayed – actually they should probably be closed – but why such a late decision? Can you get AJC to cover this?”

I asked Cobb Schools for a response: Here it is:

The date was wrong for a few seconds, but was immediately corrected. The decision to delay, and then close, was based on weather information that was up-to-the-minute.

Early scout drivers in the transportation department starting around 3:30/4:00 AM determined the roads to be safe. As the temperature dropped and precipitation increased, the decision to delay and then close was made for the safety of all students.

Early pick-ups began as scheduled for high school magnet students and a few elementary students who have early pick-up. Cobb Schools had a very small number of elementary students who did arrive at schools.

Transportation and school administrators engaged in the process of delivering those students back home after contacting their parents.

 

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
FIGMO2
FIGMO2

School closings are of no consequence to me, but for a bit of levity, I offer this from Clayton County:

Nearby elementary school posts "Early Release" days on their roadside marquis. Early Release? Shouldn't that read "Early Dismissal"? Early release is for prisoners. 

Right across the road there's a sign that reads "Free Firewood For Sale".

I tend to look for the funny things in life. There's no shortage of those. 

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

As an add-on to this:  Day-Cares are typically following the County School Board decisions (not sure if this is a legal thing or not).  In Cobb County, some day-care centers opened, accepted kids, and closed 2-hours later.

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

@RichardKPE Agencies frequently follow the district practice just to make it easier for constituents to know if closures & delays are occurring, because school districts announce it on the news. 

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

Parents, GET A LIFE.


Stop complaining because schools are damned if they do and damned if they don't.  They have to think about the safety first, and the timing depends on mother nature.   They didn't have to have delays last week but did, and today, my kids' school was one of the few that did NOT have a delay.   Is it inconvenient?  Yes. But deal with it, and stop complaining.

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

@living-in-outdated-ed Actually, many of these parents have a life, and in that life they have a "job."  Sometimes these "jobs" have bosses that require their employees to notify them if they're not going to be in the office.

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@RichardKPE @living-in-outdated-ed And a reasonable boss will understand if something like this happens. Sometimes you can't give ample notice, but in situations like this, you'd like to think your boss would be understanding.  If not, then it's the boss that has the issue, not the parent : )

RichardKPE
RichardKPE

@living-in-outdated-ed @RichardKPE I'm playing devils advocate to an extent with my example, but you're living an fantasy land.  If the boss has a problem with an employee, it's the boss's problem?  In what world does it play out that way?

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

@RichardKPE @living-in-outdated-ed What I'm saying is that I feel sorry for anyone who works for a boss that doesn't care to be sensitive to situations when the weather wrecks havoc.  We're not talking about an employee who doesn't regularly show up for work. But we're getting off topic here.

fultonschoolsparent
fultonschoolsparent

It's been interesting watching Dr. Avossa's disconnect from past Fulton weather policies.  We've virtually never had delayed starts or middle of the day closings because the bus drivers couldn't always be available.  Yet that's exactly what he did last year (mid-day closing - a disaster) and suggested again for this morning (delayed start).  I guess that is what happens when you value being surrounded by "yes men" instead of keeping experienced administrators on staff?  I also don't blame the community for thinking that late night cancelations and late morning cancelations are unreasonable because they are!  Make the call so that people can find child care!  That's not too much to ask.

NewName
NewName

@fultonschoolsparent - Avossa is from NC where the 2 hour delay is employed pretty frequently. Just b/c something is "not the way we've always done it," doesn't make it a bad idea.

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

@NewName @fultonschoolsparent NewName is correct. I used to work in NC and the two-hour delay is used quite often. It allows the district to get a school day in while accommodating safety considerations in the early AM. 

BubbaTJ
BubbaTJ

" Today all the moms in Cobb County are furious."


I guess the dads remain calm and level-headed.

Starik
Starik

Over an 80 mile distance, North to South, temperature will vary.  Fulton County is too big.  It grew too big during the depression, when then-rural Milton County went broke.  Resurrect Milton County, please. .

Astropig
Astropig

"Deciding when to close Georgia schools due to weather is an imprecise science."


Except in election years. Then, we're blessed with "backwards focused clairvoyance".



Okay, enough of this...It's a snowday here in the corner of the state that I'm in. I'm going to put some orange cones across the road in the subdivision and share my (stockpiled) sleds with the neighborhood kids. (If I'm missing for a few days,I'll see everybody when I get out of the emergency room)

DrMonicaHenson
DrMonicaHenson

I've been doing this for years, and you truly cannot win. You just have to make the decision based on the best information you have at the time, with safety being the primary driver of the decision. We have eleven sites around the state, and we follow whatever decision the local school district makes for weather-related delays and closings--how's that for charter/district collaboration? :)  Headquarters in Atlanta follows the Governor's directives regarding state agency offices.

Rickster_
Rickster_

Like Ricky Nelson sang, "You can't please everyone, so you gotta please yourself." 


I think the Supes can live with their decisions.

booful98
booful98

I actually cannot blame the administrators. Personally, I am kinda annoyed that meteorology is such an imprecise science. Millions of dollars in equipment and the best we can hope for is a 50% chance of getting it right? The accuracy hasn't improved since the 60s! 

How is anyone (let alone a school administrator responsible for the safety of millions of kids, teachers, and employees) make a decision when the information is so vague????

Larry the Legend
Larry the Legend

There was no excuse for Fulton County Schools to be closed on Friday and not be on snow schedule today.  With all the available weather information now this should be an easy call.  The FCS Superintendent needs to get his act together durng these weather events.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

I've been working in public and private schools for almost 44 years, and if I have learned anything it is that you are gong to be criticized no matter what you do with these calls. It's better just to use your best judgment and go with it. If you try to "please" the parents, you'll go nuts.