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Where to draw the line on cold-weather delays

By Staff | Jan 22, 2016

As we are finally getting some cold weather, well-frigid weather-the yearly discussion on whether to call a school delay for cold once again comes up. This year, Jefferson County has a new superintendent who chose not to conform to the majority of the state and call a two-hour delay on Tuesday as temperatures with the windchill sunk to near zero or below. Jefferson was one of a handful of West Virginia counties who did not have a delay and the only one in the immediate area, including neighboring Virginia and Maryland.

While I am a firm believer in not coddling children and advocating making them wear coats (whether they want to or not) and sending them on their way, there is a fine line especially when the buses used by the school system are not prepared for the cold.

While I heard rumors that drivers were instructed to report early to make sure their buses would start (and I say rumors because Facebook is not always accurate), there were many buses running as much as 30-45 minutes behind their normal pick up times. After my own daughters waited for 35 minutes, they came back inside and I drove them to school. Other children did not have the luxury of a parent to drive them or the ability to be inside as they waited for their bus.

If there is to be no delay in such cold, then the buses need to be up and running on time. With that said, it is not the fault of the drivers who are out there ahead of time to get them going. The buses don’t run well in cold; often they don’t start.

That is what needs to be taken into account when deciding that the children of Jefferson County should start on time. It is not that it is cold and we coddle our children. When the bus doesn’t come and those children face extreme temperatures, there is an issue. The superintendent, I know, did not have to stand out anywhere in the frigid temperatures. She was cozy and warm driving to her office in a car provided as part of her salary package. Perhaps parking that car and standing for 35 to 40 minutes for a late bus or even walking to school as some of our county’s elementary school students must, will make her aware just how cold it is and how thin that line of a need to be at school on time and that of compassion and common sense really is.