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School System Explains Decision to Open Despite Icy Roads

'The change in weather between 5 and 6 a.m. put us in a difficult position,' a school official said.

Icy rain and slippery streets made for dangerous road conditions Friday, but school was still in session. (Patch file photo)
Icy rain and slippery streets made for dangerous road conditions Friday, but school was still in session. (Patch file photo)
Icy rain and slippery streets made for dangerous road conditions Friday, but schools still opened on time in Anne Arundel County.

By 9 a.m. Friday, there were 70 reported vehicle incidents, according to Anne Arundel County Police Department.

County school officials issued a notice Friday morning saying that while they closely monitored weather conditions, the decision to open schools for the day was made before conditions changed.

"The change in weather between 5 and 6 a.m. put us in a difficult position," according to an update posted on AACPS.org. "The complexity of our bus transportation and operational system prevent a change in school operation plans at that point."

To mitigate parent concerns over the weather, the school system will "hold harmless" any student who does not make it on time Friday. Students who do not go to school will be counted as absent, but the absence will be excused, and those students will be allowed to make up work. 

"Parents should make the decisions they feel are best for their children without worry that children will be penalized for missing school," according to the school system's update.

Employees are also being granted some lenience today, and should contact their supervisors to let them know of any difficulties making it to work.

Online, parents spoke out against the school system for its decision-making.
On Facebook pages for Anne Arundel Patches, a request for comments gathered dozens of responses from parents.

"I believe some policy changes are in order," Annettee Nadeau wrote. "Even if [high schoolers are] already at school (or on the way) others should have been delayed as the weather got progressively worse. Difficult decisions but common sense should prevail."

"I think the county needs to rethink [its] decision making," Sami Marie wrote. "Should decide night before, like the rest of surrounding counties!"

Others, however, said the school system made the right call. 

"Little bit of ice on the sidewalks and in the parking lots, but it's 34 and climbing and a little bit of common sense goes a long way," Ryan Stavely wrote. "If you're that worried, keep your kid home."

What was your Friday morning driving experience? Let us know in the comments.
MM January 10, 2014 at 11:28 AM
First- residents typically get a call around 5:30 about delays and closures They could have called it then second- that message about students being held "harmless" for missing at 8:40 am UM hello, students and staff were already at schools or on their way. It was an unfortunate decision AACPS!
MM January 10, 2014 at 01:05 PM
I find it interesting that AACPS has pulled that message about their decission off the website!
Gin January 11, 2014 at 08:25 AM
AACPS showed disregard for the safety of staff and students. Any warning of ice should be taken seriously.
J.P. Nolan January 11, 2014 at 11:33 AM
What a lame explanation. First of all, the National Weather Service had issued a Freezing Rain Advisory for 3AM-9AM. This advisory was issued 12 hours in advance. Also, most credible school systems pay an outside third party weather service (not a local TV station) to provide specific forecasts for the county and/or specific locations within the country. In addition, anyone could have seen the radar at 10PM Thursday night which showed a huge area of freezing rain coming from the west and southwest. Not sure if the Interim Superintendent has an appropriate compliment of staffers to assist her, but not an excuse. Or is she unfamiliar with the complexities of our county given that she lives on the Howard/Carroll border? Interesting questions, especially since every county bordering ours on the western shore had a delay or closure. C'mon Man: 2 hour delay would have made most sense!

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