County Councilman Chad Shrodes, joined by parents in his North Harford district, are urging Harford County Public Schools to create a separate “North Harford Zone” for weather-related school closings and delays, similar to the Hereford Zone in Baltimore County Public Schools. Winter weather conditions that prompted the school system to close early today sparked creation of the group’s Facebook page entitled “North Harford School Zone Petition to HCPS”, which quickly surpassed 1,400 members.
Harford County Public Schools did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Facebook page includes member photos of weather conditions in the area today, and school buses traveling on snow covered roadways. North Harford is a mostly rural area of the county, characterized by farmlands and rolling hills.
Questions about the Facebook page were referred to Councilman Shrodes.
Shrodes told The Dagger that the Facebook page was his idea to gauge interest in the issue and to get the attention of decision-makers. He said that his district typically gets more snow and is several degrees colder than the rest of the county. “It’s a micro-climate up here,” he said.
Shrodes said that some North Harford parents kept their children home from school today because of concerns about road safety. The area got 8 – 9 inches of snow, he said, while other parts of the county got only a few inches. “I personally saw two buses that were stuck…The thing is, it is unsafe up here,” Shrodes said. He also saw today as an opportunity to garner support for a longstanding issue: “It was just the perfect storm to demonstrate what I’ve been saying for a long time.”
With support from Council President Billy Boniface, Shrodes said that his next step will be to draft a letter to the Board of Education.
Below is the school system’s announcement regarding Monday’s early dismissal. In response to questions earlier in the day from The Dagger, a HCPS spokesperson said that February 3rd will still count as a school day. Therefore, an inclement weather make up day will not be required.
Harford County Public Schools will close early today, Monday, February 3. Schools will be dismissed on the following schedule:
• High schools and North Harford Middle School will dismiss at 10:00 a.m.;
• Middle schools and the John Archer School will dismiss at 10:45 a.m.;
• Elementary schools, including Pre-K, will dismiss at 11:30 a.m.; and
• Fourth tier schools will dismiss at noon.
Afternoon Pre-K and Alternative Education programs are cancelled. In addition, all school activities – including field trips and afterschool activities – are cancelled.