When an early morning storm hit the Loudoun County area just before 6 a.m. Friday, high school students and parents were left driving to schools (and work), despite the wintry conditions that resulted in dozens of accidents in Loudoun.
The fast-moving storm left just enough ice and snow to create some unsafe conditions, at just the wrong time.
“At 4:30 to 5:30 a.m., when we usually make the decision about school closing, there was no snow,” said Wayde Byard, Public Information Officer for Loudoun County Public Schools. “By the time the snow started, it was too late. The buses were already out, teachers were already commuting to work, there was no way to call them back.”
Snow was on the ground by the time many residents were waking up, prompting many – who were as yet unaware of the school system’s dilemma – to expect delays if not closings.
“I think it was a mistake not to have at least delayed school,” said Tammy Consani, a mother of two Loudoun students. “I have a high school teen who drives and it's extremely dangerous for them to be on the roads as teenagers in that kind of weather.”'Like' Ashburn Patch on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. Ask me to 'like' your business: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Consani said that while the county’s main arteries were clear, the neighborhood street remained dangerous through the morning commute.
“Although the main roads weren't as bad as the side roads, even SUVs were sliding around in my Ashburn neighborhood,” she said. “I just wonder if it was worth the additional two hours of instruction to warrant the many fender benders that occurred on my way to school.”
On a local Facebook page, many parents expressed concern about sending their children to school this morning.
One parent on the social networking website said, “I would rather deal with parents who gripe because a delay was called and nothing happened than dealing with a parent whose child was injured or worse on the way to school in snowy or icy weather. They should always err on the side of caution.”
At 10 a.m., the Loudoun County Sheriff’s office released a reminder to use caution during Friday morning’s commute. At that time, deputies had responded to more than 50 crashes and 20 disabled vehicles.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles become another target of parental venting.
"This would be considered ‘good’ weather in Chicago,” one person wrote. “Is there a lack of funding for sand/salt? Again, I know weather here is mild, but you must anticipate snow and ice. Kids should be in school. Why aren't the roads treated?"
Byard emphasized that the school system uses many methods to determine whether school should be delayed or canceled, and even with all of that science, sometimes there is no way to predict the outcome.
“We always err on the side of caution,” he said. “But no matter how we call it, people will be upset.”
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