Severo Avila

Severo Avila is Features Editor at the Rome News-Tribune.

One of the things that inevitably happens when there’s even a chance of show…or freezing rain…or even snow flurries, is the constant back and forth between parents and schools. Some parents want the schools to go ahead and cancel right away. Some think they shouldn’t jump the gun. Don’t endanger the kids but don’t cancel school unnecessarily if kids won’t be in any danger. This happens every year.

There’s generally four sides to the issue of school system making the decision to cancel school. Here are those sides…

Hindsight Parents Group 1: Parents who raise Cain because they think the school system canceled school for no good reason. These are the parents who think the school system should know EXACTLY what the weather will do well ahead of time and make the right call every time depending on that prediction. If the weather wasn’t as bad as expected, these parents mock the school system on social media saying that they panic because of a little wind or a little sleet or if they see flurries, keeping kids out of school and disrupting parents’ schedules for no good reason.

Hindsight Parents Group 2: Parents who are angry when the weather turns out to be worse than expected but school wasn’t canceled. They think the school system deliberately endangered their child’s life. These are the parents who can see for themselves what the weather is like, send their children to school anyway, then are outraged if the weather conditions turn bad. They say the school system should have known better and should have gone ahead and canceled school just to be safe.

The school system: These are the people who have to make the decision IN ADVANCE on whether to cancel school or not, based on the best guesses of meteorologists. And they have to consider the safety of ALL their students, faculty, staff, administrators and bus drivers. The school system has to make a decision far enough in advance that they can alert parents while trying to hold off that decision long enough to get a better clue of what the weather will do. They’re in a darned-if-you-do, darned-if-you-don’t situation. They get yelled at either way.

Reasonable parents: These are the parents who know that the school systems have the student’s safety and best interest at heart. They know it’s a tough call either way and realize that when dealing with something as unpredictable as the weather, there are bound to be times when people get it wrong. Reasonable parents also take it upon themselves to make their own decisions when it comes to their child’s safety. They might know it’s best for their child to stay home because their road gets particularly icy when temperatures drop. The school system may not know this. Reasonable parents know that it’s better to err on the side of safety, especially when children are the ones affected.

 

Here’s the thing to remember. School systems have to make a judgment call and they have to do it way in advance of bad weather. That’s a tough thing to do knowing thousands of students, parents and staff are affected by the decision. It’s not made lightly. Try to be the parent who’s understanding of that.

And remember that it also falls on you as the parent to decide what’s safe and not safe for your child. Do you think it’s too dangerous today to put your kid on a bus and send them to school? Then don’t. No one knows exactly how many inches of snow we’ll get, if any. No one knows exactly how icy the roads will get. No one knows exactly how many cars will be piled up on the side of the road blocking traffic and no one knows exactly how many power lines will be down.

Y’all know good and well there are drivers around here who can’t even drive safely when it’s sunny and dry outside let alone when there’s a little bit of snow and ice on the road.

And of course there’s the whole other issue of making up those school days canceled because of bad weather. Add that to the long list of things school officials have to consider when making these decisions.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m positive the safety of the children is their top priority. But there are many other factors that come into play as well.

So you can’t be mad when the folks making these decisions have to do so under pressure from so many people and with the best information they’re given.

We’re all great at knowing what should have been done AFTER THE FACT.

 

Severo Avila is features editor for the Rome News-Tribune