Superintendent Discusses Winter Weather Closures
VIENNA -- Many of the schools around the region were supposed to be back in session Monday. But thanks to freezing temperatures and bad road conditions, most schools will remain closed.
Johnson County school leaders say it's a decision that can't be rushed. On Sunday, superintendents spent the day checking bus routes and weather reports before making that final decision to cancel school Monday.
"We don't want to put kids in situations where they're in danger,' says Vienna High School superintendent Edwin Shoemate.
It's a decision that's not always easy for Shoemate, but one he found necessary for Monday morning. Johnson County has four different districts that share bus routes. All four superintendents personally check the roads themselves.
"Each of us will drive a particular set of roads, and then after we've driven those roads, we talk to all the other superintendents and decide whether it's a yes or a no," says Shoemate.
If they get more negative reports, they call off school. But with Sunday's batch of weather, they were also looking at the single-digit temperatures.
"We're not used to 20 below wind chill and having kids stand outside. You know, if a bus breaks down and you have a student possibly out in the cold 20 to 30 minutes longer than they usually would be," says Shoemate.
With these temperatures, frostbite is a major concern for students that wait at bus stops or walk to school. But the county school districts also have to keep an eye on their emergency days. After Monday's closing, Vienna High School will have used all five of its emergency days, which means the students won't go on summer break until May 30.
"We have a schedule and a calendar that our staff has approved and our education association has approved, so we have to stick with that," says Shoemate.
Shoemate says they prefer to make one decision county-wide. But it doesn't always happen that way. During last month's winter storm, the high school was open when some of the grade schools weren't.
"We looked at the aspects and safety and we decided that we could go after talking to bus drivers and driving some of the routes and just staying off majority of the back roads," says Shoemate.
You can click here for a listing of all local schools closed Monday, January 6.
Wind: 16 MPH
Humidity: 44 %