Dear Parents and Employees:
We are thankful that all schools had power in time for school to begin this morning. The power companies that support our schools do a fantastic job of working to get us back online whenever something happens that prevents power from getting to a school. That happened this morning.
Around 6 a.m., we learned that we had no power at a few schools throughout the district. By that time, we already had buses picking up students, and, we had assurances from the power companies that those power outages would not last long.
However, the last two days of weather caused some of you to ask how we decide to dismiss early, to cancel school, or to delay school start.
As you can imagine, forecasting the weather is very difficult, and, as a rule, we operate schools whenever it is safe to do so. This means that the main roads and rural roads that our buses and parents travel must be safe and that the current or coming weather conditions are not dangerous.
We know that dismissing early or canceling school creates issues for parents who work during the day and must quickly prepare for alternate care, rearrange their work schedules, or take time away from work.
Here’s what you might not know.
If bad weather begins late at night, the district needs to decide about running school buses on a normal schedule or not running on a normal schedule by 5 a.m. as our earliest school buses pick up their first elementary school students at 5:40 a.m.
If the weather worsens unexpectedly while students are at school, the district keeps students and school buses at school until the crisis passes. (Schools are some of the safest places that children can be during most natural disasters. In fact, schools often serve as emergency shelters.)
However, if bad weather begins during a school day, we also have to decide if keeping students the entire day puts our staff and our students at risk during their normal travel time home, whether by bus or vehicle. Yesterday was a perfect example of that. That main weather hit right when we would have had buses and vehicles on the road.
A lot of work goes into making those decisions.
The superintendent talks to other Midlands area superintendents very early in the morning, if necessary. In that conversation, they consider information from the National Weather Service, South Carolina Highway Patrol, Lexington County Emergency Preparedness, district transportation supervisors, and other district administrators.
As always, the safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. That will always be our first consideration when making decisions.
Thank you for understanding,
Dr. Greg Little, Superintendent
Lexington County School District One