GCS School Officials Explain Decision Making Process For Closing Schools

12:20 AM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Guilford County School's 609 school buses travel 50,000 miles each day.

Fifty-thousand miles will get you around the Earth twice but on Wednesday, those buses won't be driving anywhere.

Classes are canceled for GCS students. 

READ: Guilford County Schools Announces Makeup Days

Before the decision to delay or cancel school is made, the district has to consider a lot of factors.

"We know which roads conditions get worse quicker - those that stay shady or low lying areas," said Jeff Harris, Guilford County Schools.

Harris is GCS' transportation director and helps make the call to cancel school. 

"Whether the decision we make is considered right or wrong, our goal is always to make the decision based on what's safe," explained Harris.

The decision-making process starts days ahead of an approaching storm. Harris checks the forecast and alerts his staff about possible delays or cancellations. 

The morning the storm is expected, Harris and 20 other transportation employees check roads covering 645-square miles.

"[The district] covers different areas so it can be snowing in one part of the county, or bad weather in one part of the county, and clear and sunny in another part," said Harris.

Harris then gives his recommendation to the district's Chief Information Officer and Superintendent. 

"Some parents think maybe on a cold day that we need to always delay school, but you have to think about those children who maybe are home by themselves without heat, don't have any supervision, don't have anything eat," explained Harris. "So you have to think about everyone, not just those whose schedules can fit with whatever our decisions may be."

"Anytime we make a decision to delay school, cancel school, or dismiss early there are so many things that come into play and many things don't just impact one family, you are impacting 71,000 students and all their families," said Harris.

READ: Closings/Cancellations 

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and Alamance-Burlington School System follow a similar process.

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