School or sNOw School?

The Leesville student parking lot was covered with ice and snow the day students came to school. Photo courtesy of Daniel Bomgardner.

Wake County Public School students spent Friday, January 22, and Monday, January 25, home from school due to snow. Winter Storm Jonas shed layers of snow, ice and freezing rain, making roads dangerous well into the week of the Januaray 25.

School Board members were forced into a similar position to last year: either come to school before all the roads are clear or lose instructional time. Previously the school board chose for the students to stay safe and simply forgive the instructional time.

However, on Monday, January 25, the decision was made to have only a three-hour delay on Tuesday morning. Students grudgingly came to school, but under dangerous conditions. Some slipped while walking to their bus stop, or slid on the ice while driving to school, and still others tweeted pictures of the dangerous conditions on their journey to school.

David Ierston-Brown, a junior at Leesville, struggled driving to school on Tuesday, even with the three hour delay. Lerston-Brown lives on a hill.

“I couldn’t get up,” he said. “I started sliding back down the hill, so I had to turn around and go back a different way.” He then brought up the fact that Leesville faculty were describing hazardous road conditions: “I saw tweets from Caggia saying, ‘don’t take country trail, it’s all iced over’–if the teachers are tweeting that then why are we coming in?” Lerston-Brown also described the difficulties that public transportation had in his neighborhood, stating that one bus slipped and another got stuck.

Bill Fletcher, the representative for District 9 of the Wake County School Board, was one of the people who made the decision for students to come to school on Tuesday. Fletcher said (via email) that “the primary reason for holding classes on January 26 [was] to recover the lost full day of instruction,” in reference to the missed school days on January 22 and 25. To the School Board, the value of making up the instructional time was more important than the hazardous conditions.

Just like last year, the weather forced the school board to make a difficult decision about the relative values of the time in class and the potential risk to students. However, this year, the school board chose differently from last. This year, Leesville held school with ice on the parking lots and sidewalks and passages, but the students had the opportunity to learn.


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