An early morning snow last Friday contributed to three school bus accidents in Harford County, but didn’t delay the opening of Harford County Public Schools, and parents later questioned the decision to start school on time.
Taking no chances, it was announced by 11 a.m. Tuesday that all Harford County public schools would be closing one hour early, due to another round of impending inclement weather. Afternoon pre-K, alternative education evening classes, and all after school activities, including intervention programs, were also cancelled, according to a phone message from HCPS to parents this morning.
Friday’s weather situation likely prompted Superintendent Robert M. Tomback to ask his director of transportation to discuss the process for weather-related school closings, at a January 10 school board meeting in Bel Air. Here’s the summary from HCPS:
Dr. Tomback invited Director of Transportation Charlie Taibi to discuss the process by which the operating schedules for schools in the event of inclement weather. From November 15th – April 1st, HCPS Transportation Supervisors are on the roads every morning and talking to the Sheriff’s Office to observe conditions and report issues. This process begins at 3:30 a.m. All Supervisors are dispatched to their geographic snow route and they report back with
they are seeing and hearing. HCPS buses pre-trip at 4:45 a.m., as such bus drivers are put on stand-by to await further instruction. Transportation utilizes county and state agencies as another source of intelligence. HCPS Facilities is
consulted to address any issues or problems. With all the intelligence available at the time, a decision is made and the
communication process is set forth.
Regarding last Friday, Taibi said that forecasted snow didn’t materialize when it was expected at 3:30 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., but instead began to fall at 5:15, after the decision had been made to let the buses roll. He said that Friday’s school bus accidents involved buses that were stopped or at a light. “Our drivers did very, very well. They are trained to drive in inclement weather, but they only control their vehicle,” Taibi said, adding that one of the bus accidents did involve a vehicle driven by a high school student.
Noting that Friday’s experience resulted in some lessons learned, Taibi said that snow was expected again Tuesday night (tonight), and that school officials would again be assessing conditions starting at 3:30 Wednesday morning.
School Board President Mark Wolkow added that if school activities are cancelled for Wednesday January 12, the elementary school redistricting hearing scheduled for 7:00 p.m. at Aberdeen High School would be rescheduled.