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How school districts are approaching closings, delays ahead of wintry weather

Posted at 5:58 PM, Dec 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-10 18:24:45-05

HANOVER COUNTY, Va. -- With a chance of snow early Wednesday morning, it could cause school delays or even closures in Central Virginia.

The timing of the forecasted precipitation is what is concerning many who make those decisions and for local parents who know the wintry mix may be coming down as students head to school.

Rain will increase Tuesday night, becoming moderate to heavy at times, as the Arctic cold front moves into Virginia, according to CBS 6 chief meteorologist Zach Daniel.

The changeover from rain to snow in the Richmond area is expected around 3:30 a.m., with wet snow continuing until around 8 a.m.

"Currently, it looks like we may be okay tomorrow morning, but we will be up bright and early to make sure that we make the right call," said Hanover County schools spokesperson Chris Whitley.

It’s a call that school systems across Central Virginia will have to make.

Dinwiddie County Schools spokesperson Christie Clark says whatever that decision may be, it will start with safety.

“Certainly, student safety is always our main concern, not just the buses but for our staff and our student drivers," explained Clark.

Something parents and grandparents tell CBS 6 that they understand and appreciate.

"I’m always concerned, no matter what kind of weather it is, when my grandson is on the bus, just for the traffic alone, but the snow does bother me," said Alice Shamwell.

Large school systems like Dinwiddie and Hanover Counties have hundreds of miles of roads for buses to traverse.

“Always the bridges and overpasses, the shady spots, the back roads, those are always a concern," explained Clark.

With large counties, there is also a unique problem. For instance, Hanover County is 50 miles wide.

Chris Whitley

"It can also make it difficult for our families to understand the decisions and the Complexity of the Decisions we have to make because of the geography,” said Whitley.

"It could be raining, and sleeting say in Beaverdam and sunny and dry in Old Church, but we have to take the entire County into consideration," he added.

Whitley says Hanover tries to make the decision to delay or close by 6:15 a.m. but Wednesday's storm timeline could make it tough for some school divisions to make an early call.

"You know we always try to err on the side of safety, make the best decision we can for the kids and parents," said Clark.

The school systems say they will rely on information from their transportation department, VDOT, and law enforcement.