Why is it necessary to close all county schools when only a few roads have hazardous conditions? It is not. But, the Albemarle County Public Schools’ (ACPS) response to county road conditions is overly broad, unimaginative, and simplistic. Their approach disrupts thousands of students and parents because of a dozen or so patches of snow and ice.
Every year we have snowstorms and freezing weather. This is a known and predictable occurrence that still seems to bewilder the ACPS. Four days after the Februray 16th snowstorm the schools were still closed. Why? Because a few of the secondary roads in the county have uncleared patches of snow and ice. The ACPS posted several examples of this on their Facebook page. I concur that the roads they showed were dangerous and should be avoided. But closing every school in the county is disruptive and unnecessary.
It is disruptive because thousands of parents must arrange child care or miss work, an inconvenience for some but a serious financial problem for others. It also leaves many students unsupervised, a potential hazard itself. Furthermore, the least privileged students among us might be missing their best meals of the day.
It is unnecessary because, with a little creativity and effort, the ACPS could create a policy designed to match the county road conditions. For example, reduced bus service with pick up/drop off locations that avoid secondary roads, or closing only those schools with uncleared roads in their district, or coordinating with the proper authority to have bus routes cleared or arranging safe passage over snow and ice patches or recording/streaming some of the core classes. After all, the ACPS does like to brag about it technology. Numerous other organizations such as the USPS, Rescue Squads, etc. are able to operate because they plan for winter road conditions.
The ACPS can still be prudent and cautious in regard to inclement weather, as they have been, but they can also be diligent, creative and industrious in getting students back in the classroom. Missing four days of school for five inches of snow is mismanaging a known risk.