Monday, March 19, 2018

To Close School, Or Not To Close School. That Is The Question.

You've heard of snow days, but what about severe weather days?  The mention of snow will close schools down across most of the southern United States and now severe thunderstorms will as well.  This has actually been going on for many years in Alabama, Georgia, and Tennessee and started well before the massive April 2011 outbreak.  It might be standard operating procedure elsewhere too, but not in Arkansas, yet.  

I have been a staunch advocate against doing this, but now I'm more open to the idea after reading many comments on Twitter and Facebook and giving it some thought.  This might be an issue where it's good for one school district, but not another.

We are getting better and better predicting when and where severe weather will occur.  Tornado producing thunderstorms typically form in the mid and late afternoon hours when kids are home or on their way home.  It's also the time rush hour traffic is at its worst.  The idea is to get kids home and off the roads before the severe weather develops.  That's a great idea when we know severe weather will come in late in the afternoon.  

There's another side to this issue as well.  What if the severe weather develops earlier than expected in the early afternoon hours or even in the morning?   Where are the kids safest?   Many schools are now equipped with safe rooms and students are safer there than in homes which may not be able to withstand a hit from a tornado.  If school is getting ready to dismiss and that area is already receiving severe weather, is it better to hold the kids in a safe area of the building until the threat passes?  

As a parent, I want to know my kid is safe.  That's going to be different for every parent.  If my school has a certified safe room, I feel comfortable with them there.  If the school does not and my house does, I want them home.

It's a very interesting issue to explore with other implications.  What if a parent can't get off work early?  Is there a safe place for the child until the parent can arrive?

We are now well into severe weather season and it's always a good idea to know where your safe place is in your home.  As a concerned parent, you should find out what your school is doing to keep your kids safe in the event of severe weather.  

School administrators, if you're not sure where the safest place is in your school, give the National Weather Service a call.  I know there are meteorologists there who will inspect the school and offer recommendations.  At the end of the day, we all want what is best for our children, SAFETY!

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