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Many schools chose to stay open despite terrible conditions

by Maggie Crane

Posted on January 12, 2012 at 9:36 PM

Updated Friday, Jan 13 at 3:31 AM

(KMOV) -- Schools throughout St. Charles County were cancelled Thursday, but students and teachers throughout districts in St. Louis County had to report to class.  Countless were late, many waiting on school buses.  I talked to district leaders about the decision to stay open.

Even at nightfall, the very road leading into Eureka High School was still snow-packed and slick, but district leaders said the decision they had to make to keep schools open happened long before the morning rush hour gridlock.
"We actually came to school late because we were sliding on the hills," Eureka High School Student Audrey Tomlinson said.
Rockwood Schools, along with every other large district in the county had class, despite slick streets and traffic gridlock on most major arteries. 
Several parents thought the district made the wrong call and sounded off on its website.
Cathy asked, "What happened to the snow schedule?"
Lisa wrote, " might have wanted to play the better safe than sorry card."
Concerned Parent and Teacher said, "My teenager's bus was 45 minutes late on a day the wind chill is in the single digits."
"This morning was one of those unfortunate situations where a lot of things happened that we could not anticipate," Rockwood School District Spokesperson Kim Cranston said.  "I think a lot of it had to do with the timing of when the snow was falling and the road conditions."
"I think it was unsafe," Eureka High School Student Mary Tomlinson said.  "I heard a lot of people in dangerous situations so I think it was a bad call, plus the roads weren't salted well enough, and so I just think it was a bad combination and a poor decision."
Superintendents across the county started talking to each other in the middle of the night and said, at that time, roads weren't dangerous.
"At 3 o'clcok this morning the roads were fine; it wasn't snowing that hard," Cranston said.  "We have to make that decision to cancel school at the latest 6 a.m. because we have to notify drivers, staff, and obviously parents and students."
"It's a tough call, but as you step back and look at it at 6 o'clock here, it sure would have been nice to have a snow day," Ken Tomlinson, parent to Rockwood School District students, said.
It wasn't just Rockwood that had parents, students and even tachers complaining about district decision-making.  A Ferguson-Florissant School District teacher emailed me the following:
"There were many unhappy teachers in Ferg-Flor. At least two teachers ended up in ditches with one other in an accident. I believe one student slid off the road as well. Many teachers didn't make it in before school started, leaving us scrambling to cover classes. Our own principal was over an hour late. I felt that my personal safety was not valued. You guys gave us plenty of warning about staying in if possible. We have 5 or six snow days built in, why not use them?"
By the time I received this email, I could not reach a representative from the district for a response.