Chesterfield Schools cancel classes Friday over Florence ‘concerns’

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Officials with Chesterfield Schools announced Thursday afternoon that classes will be canceled on Friday as Hurricane Florence hits near the North Carolina-South Carolina line.

In an email, Tim Bullis with Chesterfield Schools thanked parents for their patience.

"We have continued to monitor the path and potential impacts of Hurricane Florence this week. Like you, we have seen wide variances in forecasts from last weekend through today. We remain extremely thankful that the current projections continue to spare the greater Richmond area from the worst this storm will have to offer, and will keep others to be impacted in our thoughts.
After reviewing all of the data and forecasts available to us at this time, we have determined that there are still concerns about the potential for near-tropical storm force wind gusts and the impacts they could have on school division operations (power due to downed trees, transportation, etc.) given the size of this massive hurricane.
Out of concern for the safety of our students and staff members, Chesterfield County Public Schools will be closed on Friday, Sept. 14. No students or staff should report.
As previously announced, after-school activities scheduled for today, Friday and all events scheduled for Saturday remain cancelled. Schools will be open for previously scheduled community use on Sunday.
Thank you again for your patience as we navigated this ever-changing storm path!"

While many school systems in Central Virginia announced earlier this week the decision to close Friday, Chesterfield Schools waited until Thursday to make the call.

"Though we indicated [Wednesday] that we would have a decision today, we are not prepared to announce a decision regarding Friday’s operations based on the latest weather data available," a school spokesperson posted on Facebook. "We believe it is prudent to track the storm another 24 hours to ensure that its course does not change once again, and determine at that point if it is safe for students and staff to report on Friday."

The school system said it anticipated a final decision to be made by 3 p.m. on Thursday.

The storm track -- as of Wednesday afternoon -- kept Florence far away from Central Virginia.

School systems like Henrico, Richmond, and Hanover made the decision to cancel after-school activities Thursday and stay closed on Friday when the storm appeared it might have a greater impact on the region. Petersburg School decided Wednesday to follow suit.

Former educator Faye Tinsley says the call to shutdown school was made too soon.

“I don`t think it was thought through, I don’t think it had the parents or caretakers in mind,” she said.

While Ophelia Dean, was born and raised in Richmond, believes the school systems made the right call.

“I think that’s a good idea,” said Dean.

“We def don’t know how much of the storm we are going to get and right here in Richmond. It’s a lot of old trees falling around even over there where I live. It might just be enough wind to knock them over,” she added.

Schools that made the call early in the week said they stood by their decisions, they were informed by weather experts and emergency response teams and anytime there is a questionable situation they will err on the side of caution.