Let’s explore some other options during snowy, icy weather for schools

Published 8:00 am Monday, January 22, 2018

Some days, it seems the only thing one can rely on is Mississippi’s weather’s being as chaotic as Congress.

Last week, area students had a week-long break due to icy road conditions and today, it’s 65 degrees.

It was interesting to see the reactions on social media each day as schools announced their closings. They ranged from joy – probably from teachers and adult students at Ole Miss – to outrage.

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Those who were mad simply because they were forced into spending time with their kids, who were probably going stir crazy, I paid no attention to. Get over it. They’re your kids. Enjoy the time you have with them, even when they drive you crazy.

However, it was an inconvenience for many working parents. While it seemed like the entire city shut down, the hospital, police and fire departments, and many retail stores all stayed open and expected their employees to work. Some pizza delivery places even continued to deliver, despite the dangerous road conditions.

I, too, had to juggle things to help watch my granddaughters since their mother works at Baptist in the cafeteria. Patients have to eat no matter what fury Mother Nature brings about.

Many parents lost paid work hours, which will affect them well into the next few weeks, especially those who work pay check-to-pay check.

One friend said he worried about students who come from poor homes and rely on the school for their breakfast and lunch each day, and that’s a valid concern.

But safety has to come first. I don’t work for the school district. I don’t drive a bus and it’s not my responsibility to decide what’s the safest course to take – thank goodness – so I try not to judge nor complain about their decisions as I have to believe they are made in the best interest of the school district as a whole.

One wreck, one child injured on the way to school would be one too many. Should the school decide not to close and something horrible occurs, the district is open to being blamed – and sued – for not closing the school. They have to protect themselves, as well as students and teachers.

The city of Oxford and Lafayette County have found it’s not cost-effective to purchase the kinds of trucks needed to clear streets of ice and snow when it happens too infrequently. Families aren’t about to purchase snow tires for the same reason.

However, perhaps the school districts can review how things “are done up North” when dealing with extended periods of ice and snow in more rural areas.

Growing up in Jersey, of course, I loved snow days. My parents, probably not so much. However, I can’t remember a time where I missed more than one, maybe two days, of school. Yes, there were trucks and equipment to clear the roads, but we also had a whole lot more snow and ice that fell more frequently.

One way our schools handled the situation was opening when the roads were fairly clear but perhaps some dangerous patches remained in the area, was to suspended bus service. Parents could choose to bring their child to school and pick them up. Should they feel it was too unsafe, the student could remain home and their absence would be excused for the day. Teachers generally changed lesson plans so that those students who couldn’t make it into school didn’t miss out on a whole lot but we were kept busy, safe and fed.

Perhaps this is something the school districts could consider the next time icy roads linger in some areas around the city and county.

Alyssa Schnugg is senior writer at the EAGLE. You can reach her at alyssa.schnugg@oxfordeagle.com