To delay or close? For school administrators, it’s all about safety

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Parents are reacting to another unexpected Snow Day in Central Virginia.

For the sixth day in a row Tuesday, Central Virginia residents woke up to icy conditions on area roadways. And with many crashes reported across the region, schools weren’t taking any chances.

But how do school officials go about making the decision to close? 8News went to those decision makers to find out.

“Hello, this is Andy Jenks.”

“Henrico County Schools will be closed…”

“This is Andy Jenks calling for what will hopefully be the last time this week.”

It’s the phone call that leaves some elated, and others deflated.

Parents in Henrico County received word early Tuesday morning that, instead of operating on a two-hour delay, schools would be closed for a fourth time.

“It looks like a great day to go to school, but we would have not had a safe operation this morning,” Josh Davis, Director of Transportation for HCPS, said. “We did not need to take any type of risk with our students and our employees.”

Davis explained that the roads county-wide were relatively clear Monday afternoon, with some slushy spots that initially called for a two-hour delay. But rain overnight left a dangerous, icy glaze on the roads that sent cars spinning and would have likely done the same for big, yellow buses.

“When you get that additional layer of ice, all of a sudden it doesn’t matter if anything, a heavier vehicle, might struggle even more because once it starts sliding in the wrong direction, it’s almost impossible to stop it,” Davis explained.

Even parents like Kathleen Hunter, who are anxious to get their kids back to school, can appreciate that.

“I understand that it is about safety and it’s the safety of our children, so at the end of the day that’s really important,” Hunter said.

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