5 Questions for Andy True

Anna Harrington, Staff Writer

What factors usually play into decided whether or not to close or delay school for weather?

“We look at a variety of things, but the most important thing we consider is if it’s safe; safe for buses to be out on the roads, safe for parents to be driving their children to school, safe for children who walk to school to be able to walk out on sidewalks and roads. Also, we will look at what things will change over the course of the day that will make it not safe. Things may be great in the morning when you go to school, but if the snow is going to hit at ten or eleven o’clock; we have to think about those sorts of things, as well, because it may not be safe for the afternoon drive home. The main thing we look at is if it is safe for people to travel, for teachers and staff members, as well as students and families.”

Do you make the decision the day before or early in the morning?

“Sometimes we’re able to decide the night before. If we can do that and make the decision the night before, that’s a little bit easier on families, because parents may have to figure out how they’re going to handle childcare or make special arrangements for kids that are staying home. So, if we can decide the night before we will, but a lot of time with weather, sometimes they’ll say it’s going to snow but it really doesn’t, or they think it’s going to snow a lot and it might snow a little. So, sometimes we can’t make the decision until the morning, early in the morning before school starts.”

If there is bad weather near some schools but not others do you close the entire district?

“We have to make a decision where all schools are in or all schools are out, because it would be kind of confusing with transportation for parents if we only close certain schools. So, when we make a decision on whether we’re going to be open or closed, it’s going to apply to every school. That means we have to look at the conditions all over town because things might be fine in one area, and it might be bad in another area. Last year, we were out one morning and there was a chance that it might snow. So, we were driving around town, seeing what the roads were like, because that’s what we do; we wake up at normally around four o’clock. Anyways, if you can think out towards Washington, things were fine, and on the other side of town, out where John Adams Elementary is and those areas, it was completely clear, but there was snow that came right through the middle of town and where DB is and downtown Kingsport it was completely covered in snow. So, we had to close that day because it was really bad in that center part of town”

So if it’s great in the morning, but then snow hits around the middle of the day, would there just be an early dismissal?

“That’s part of my job is to be watching the weather and at this time of year I’m looking at forecasts and looking at the weather, and I have friends that are meteorologists that I contact. I have to be looking at those forecasts, three, five, seven days out and not get caught off guard or surprised.”

What were the most snow days in the past three years?

“We had a year, a few years ago I think, we ended up with seven or eight days missed. That was the most we missed in a while.

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