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New Hanover County Schools Superintendent explains why he closed schools Wednesday



Often times when I visit school and classrooms, I will ask students if they know what my job is as a superintendent. For the younger elementary students this can be a stumper, so I tell them about my responsibility to grade principals and other tasks. Then I tell them about closing schools due to weather. They get that aspect of the job very quickly. It is not aspect of the job I take lightly and for the most part, people understand the rational for the decision. Sometimes though, it can be hard to understand the reason for the decision. This past storm offers a prime example, Monday and Tuesday were obvious with snow on the ground and roads throughout the county, school was cancelled. We were also out Wednesday as well and for many of our parents that decision seemed less obvious.

The decision was made due to road conditions in the northern third of the county and the projected weather conditions over the next 24 hours. School transportation staff and I checked conditions in the northern end of the county. We found than many schools still had snow and lots of standing water on the entrance roads and in the parking lots. Many of the side roads that our buses travel are also still snow covered. Much of the standing water was expected to freeze tonight and temperatures will not get above freezing until well after 10:00am. Even with a two hour delay our students would have been outside before 8:am. We also run a number of special programs that have students moving from one end of the county to the other so that makes closing select schools impossible. Unlike northern states that deal with snow a regular basis the school system and the Transportation Department do not have the snow equipment to do all that is necessary to ensure student and staff safety, snow is not the norm for this area. Additionally, a number of our staff member do not live in the county and would have to travel here other counties that still have even more snow on the ground.

Hopefully this will be the extent of our snow this year. We will make a decision on make-up days as quickly as possible. Thank you for your patience.


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