This past weekend Southern Maryland got four inches of snow, most would consider this ample reason to have off of school, or at least a 2 hour delay. St. Mary’ County and Calvert County both cancelled school for this past Monday. And the following day, St. Mary’s and Calvert County had a two hour delay. As someone who lives literally five minutes away from St. Mary’s county I can say that my area, which has at least five bus routes including all levels of school, got the same amount of snow as St. Mary’s County.
The roads were not adequately cleared. One of the turning lanes that buses use had large chunks of snow, and while the roads were plowed salt was not put down causing the roads to have ice on them. One student reported that his bus went over at least 10 patches of ice. We have at least one teacher in La Plata that was unable to make it to school on Monday or Tuesday because of road conditions, and countless others in the other schools in the county.
If it weren’t for last year’s track record when it came to inclement weather days this would be no big deal. We could just say that Charles County doesn’t like to use inclement weather days, however last year it seemed to many students, parents, and teachers that school was cancelled or delayed for any report of possible snow. It seemed like when we got off of school the snow would be completely melted by nine or ten a.m. However this year when we had snow and ice and even some teachers unable to make it to school because of the roads we opened on time with no delay.
Even the bus drivers had something to say about it. One that wished to remain anonymous said, “I wish it was a two-hour delay so we could see the conditions because it’s dark in the morning”. That presents another valid point, that this time of year it is dark in the morning for high school and many middle school buses. This makes buses particularly susceptible to black ice or anything else that is not easy to see on the roads.
Last year we used all six snow days and only had 12 inches of snow. That mean that for every two inches of snow we had a day off. Which is different from our not having off at all with four inches of snow. Consistency is key when it comes to cancelling school. And while we do understand the hesitation to cancel or delay school risks shouldn’t be taken with the well-being of the children in the school system. What would’ve happened if a bus crashed after going over some black ice? And granted that this didn’t happen it was certainly a very real possibility.
In the future I feel that the county should think more reasonably about the delaying and cancellation of school even if they want us to be in school as much as possible.