Cartersville Superintendent Howard Hinesley and Bartow County Superintendent John Harper both said their respective school systems monitored weather reports and did not expect there to be such a downpour of snow.
Both superintendents spoke to The Daily Tribune News on why the decision was made late morning and why there have been subsequent transportation problems and concerns.
“We had a number of buses that were out on [local] field trips that we had to call back, we had to make sure we had all the drivers, and [Director of Transportation Ken Paige] was in constant communication with the county school system and with the city,” Hinesley said. “Our buses are staggered, we don’t have enough buses to get everybody home [at the same time]...”
He said Cartersville High School students who drove to school were allowed to leave before the amended day’s end with the consent of their parents and parents had the option to pick up their students early.
“Where there’s been some confusion is that some parents called their child [directly]. We’ve had some parents call and say, ‘I don’t want my kid driving; don’t let them go,’ so we don’t release them until the time ... the buses leave at the high school,” Hinesley said. “Part of the problem is the phones are jammed and where the confusion occurs is when a parent calls their own child and [the child says], ‘They won’t let me go,’ and that’s true — we don’t want to let them go and they have an accident and then the parents say, ‘Why did you let them go?’”
He said school staff will remain on site to assist students who are awaiting transportation.
For Bartow County, which has more than 150 buses, the problems with transporting students were more severe.
“We were supposed to get a little dusting this morning at 9 or 9:30 and then it was supposed to go away and then the heavier weather would come in this afternoon, but that is not the case,” Harper said. “We may end up with kids in our buildings tonight until parents can come get them. They’ll be warm, they’ll be safe and they’ll be fed.”
Harper said about 2 p.m. there were four buses on the road.
“In this particular situation, you put kids on a bus and take them home, and if there’s nobody there, you take them back to the school. Fortunately or unfortunately, that’s what we’re doing to keep our kids safe,” Harper said. “I think there’s a situation or two where a bus can’t turn around and we’ll try and get somebody out there to that bus to try and help those children."
He also said the number of wrecks on county roads are impeding the bus drivers’ ability to travel and that closing school early takes time.
“One of the things parents need to understand is when you call off school and say you’re closing early, you can’t just snap your fingers and make that happen. We’ve got to get the buses cranked, we’ve got to get them to the school, and that in itself takes some time to happen,” Harper said.
For more, read tomorrows edition of DTN.