School closings a matter of safety

Published 5:31 pm Monday, February 16, 2015

Beaufort County braced for its first round of winter precipitation Monday night, as temperatures during the day hovered around freezing, and Beaufort County Schools officials made the call that school would be canceled Tuesday.

School’s out for all students and 10-month employees, and 12-month employees, like support staff, maintenance custodians, payroll and transportation department employees, are being asked to only drive in if it’s safe.

According to Beaufort County Schools Public Information Officer Sarah Hodges, district-wide school closings due to winter weather are all about safety.

“Even if it’s that Washington might not be that bad, but Pinetown might be iced over top to bottom. The forecast is drastic enough we felt we had to make this move for the safety of all involved,” Hodges said.

This is the first district-wide closing of the year, as opposed to last year, when Beaufort County Schools’ officials were already scrambling, trying to find ways to make up snow days without extending the school year.

“We kind of know that this is going to happen — we’re just grateful it hasn’t happened more this year,” Hodges said.

Hodges said BCS makes the closing call after consulting with a variety of different agencies and getting the most accurate weather predictions. Dr. Don Phipps, BCS superintendent, sat in on Beaufort County Emergency Management’s Monday morning briefing, getting input from Emergency Management officials, NCDOT, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol and BCS’ transportation department.

“There’s great communication between our county agencies and law enforcement is awesome,” Hodges said.

No forecast is 100-percent correct, but there’s a reason why BCS officials make the call as soon as possible, Hodges said.

“We know that this a hardship on parents, so we’re trying to make the call as early as feasible in order to give them time to make their preparations,” Hodges explained.

With the winter storm watch issued on Monday afternoon, and the potential for 1/4 of ice and other precipitation, the schools will make further school delays or closing calls on a day to day basis.