Cancelling School – Behind the Scenes

School closures and delays create many emotions each time it occurs.

School is only halfway through the first semester and has already taken a toll on you. You’re eagerly counting down the days until the next day off. Suddenly a weather alert pops up on your phone, it says that a hurricane will be coming through your county late that night and continue through the next day. There are possible flooding and dangerously high wind speeds. Desperation washes over you as you pray that they will cancel school tomorrow.  Ever wonder how that decision is made? Well, it isn’t as easy as you might think.

“We make the best decision based off of the information we are provided and the information we gather with our research. We always come back as a group, and when those decisions are being made we always think of student safety first.” Says Mychal Frost, the Director of Marketing and Communications for Rock Hill School District 3.

Mychal Frost, Director of Marketing and Communications for Rock Hill School District 3,  answers questions for The Paw Print Reporter Nadia Durocher.

In October, Hurricane Florence caused many schools throughout  North and South Carolina to close down because of high wind speeds and possible flooding. Saluda Trail closed on a Friday and then the following Monday. Many students and York County residents questioned why schools were canceled when the weather conditions were just wind and rain.

Frost said it’s not an easy job of deciding if Rock Hill schools need to close to keep students safe. Schools can also be closed due to snow,  sleet or freezing rain.

Frost said school officials take many things into consideration when canceling school. “The superintendent makes the decision with a team including myself, the transportation department, people who maintain the buildings, and the property instruction department,” said Frost.

According to Frost, officials communicate with many people before reaching a consensus. There is a process where they work with York County Emergency Management Team. They consult with local meteorologists, and they also take into account what time conditions will occur.

Late starts, half days, or entire days off can be decided on based on the weather, he said.  This is why it is important to know the time of a predicted disaster.   

While days off usually cause excitement for students, make-up days are cause for irritation.

When school is canceled, make-up days usually follow. Make-up days are when students and teachers come in during what would usually be a break to make-up for a day or several days they missed.  According to Frost, make-up days are essential because by law each district has to have a certain amount of class time.

Kateleigh Crocker, a 7th grader, said understands the importance of make-up days.

We do need school days so we can get our education, ” Croker said. “Teachers do have things planned for each day that we are supposed to be at school, in which if we missed a day from something important it could possibly throw the lesson off track due to us not being there to learn the lesson for the day.” 

Crocker, added, “Even if I do think they are necessary, I don’t really like them.” Crocker said makeup days take away from scheduled days that are built in for student breaks.   When  those days are taken away, Crocker  said it gets rid of days that “could be “used to relax or be doing school work/projects.” 

Sometimes students and staff luck out and don’t have to make up all bad weather days.  Make-ups days can be excused .“The first 3 days by state law have to be made up, ” said Frost explained. “The second 3 days can be waved by the school board. If we miss 7, 8, and 9 the state board of education can wave them. If we miss days 10 and beyond the state legislature has to vote on it.”  

The emotions from canceling schools vary each time it occurs.

“ We get all kinds of reactions,” said Frost. “We know that canceling school creates a disruption in many families. We understand that this generates a lot of emotion.”

Frost said they try to make decisions as soon as possible.

“We can’t wait until 9 to see if the wind speeds are going to be as it was forecasted, ” he said. “We have to make a decision for the safety of the students.” 


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