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Schools explains decision for no snow delay

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – When some Chesterfield parents and students woke up Thursday, they were surprised to see the roads covered in snow. They were further surprised to learn the county school system did not delay the start of the school — one week after schools were twice delayed due to sub-freezing temperatures.

“I’m not sure I understand the logic behind delaying for cold weather [last week] and not today’s conditions,” parent Amy S. posted. “In my area of town the roads were snow covered with a layer of ice underneath.”

“There should have been a two hour delay,” Judson P. wrote on the Chesterfield County Public Schools Facebook page. “When I drove my daughter to Midlo High, the conditions were not good.”

Those comments were left under a Facebook post by Chesterfield County Public Schools that explained their decision to open on time.

“Predicting the weather is not easy. We monitor forecasts and road conditions throughout the night and morning, checking with local experts and public safety officials who are on the roads. The forecast in parts of Chesterfield County didn’t necessarily pan out today, and some snow did accumulate on the streets, which was not predicted,” the school system posted. “Our bus drivers took their time and relied on their training to do the job. When in doubt, ride the bus.”

Due to the hit and miss nature of Thursday’s snow, not every parent was upset by the county’s snow day decision.

“Thank you to Chesterfield County Public Schools for not freaking out over a little bit of snow,” James S. posted. “I am very thankful that the professional bus drivers took their time and got everyone to school safely today. But I don’t believe the school system is responsible for the parents decision to allow their inexperienced teenage drivers drive in the weather if they haven’t had the practice.”

“Good call not delaying, the roads were fine!” agreed April J. “As a mother of a teen driver, if it was unsafe he would have taken the bus! The roads were perfectly fine!”

Should Chesterfield Schools have opened late Thursday? Email us your opinion or post it on the WTVR CBS 6 Facebook page.

In neighboring Henrico County, parent John Thaniel doesn’t believe the inclement weather should delay the school’s opening.

“I believe it was the right decision to have kids go to the school regular time,” Thaniel said.

Henrico Public Schools Transportation Director Josh Davis said a number of factors go into determining whether a school system decides to delay or close schools.

“We monitor the weather well in advance.  I got up at 3:30 this morning to monitor the conditions until 6:30,” Davis said.

Davis said school leaders watch the weather forecasts, consult with police, school and other county employees before making the call.

“Then, you weigh the safety that we think we’re going to be able to attain to keep our students safe and the possible risk,” Davis said.

Additionally, Davis said bus drivers go through rigorous classroom training and learn defensive driving techniques to deal with the weather.

“Snow is one of the most important things that we talk to them about. How they really got to allow more time to stop, more following distance and look out for the other guy to ensure the safety of that big vehicle,” Davis said.

Davis tells CBS 6, one of his bus drivers was involved in a fender bender when an SUV pulled in front of the vehicle.  But there were no reported injuries.

Richmond and Chesterfield school officials told CBS 6 News that safety is their number one concern.  They closely monitor the weather and road conditions, get updated forecasts.  And consult with law enforcement and transportation officials before making any decision on school delays or closures.

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