The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday January 23rd

Column: Wading murky waters

Preparing for a hurricane is never easy; neither is recovering from one. Granted, there are certainly precautions and measures to put in place that make the process slightly easier, and, if anything, exercising common sense and carefulness is the least one can do to ensure that people are kept safe in the aftermath of a catastrophic storm. 

Various school systems in North Carolina apparently didn’t get the memo, as they callously placed students and staff in harm’s way by opening schools early last week despite thousands of homes being damaged and/or without power, several roadways littered by fallen trees and other debris and half of the state completely underwater. 

I understand that canceling class isn’t an easy call to make. There are plenty of logistical complexities and extraneous details involved with scheduling, and shortening an already-limited academic year is far from simple. There are only so many school days, after all. 

But it’s just school. Class can be made up — illness, injury and death cannot be. 

Some schools were extremely cautious: many didn’t have class at all last week, with the roads being far too hazardous to travel on. Various counties kept their schools closed, and many along the coast likely won’t have class for some time as they work to rebuild after receiving record amounts of rainfall and flooding. Flood waters on I-40 near Wilmington, North Carolina, finally receded this weekend, and other locations are still experiencing flooding.

Other schools still had class, though. Many students of Durham and Orange County Schools traveled to school Monday morning in fear of being marked absent, as both counties decided to stay open despite the ongoing danger presented by torrential rainfall and intense flooding throughout the Triangle. Some students stood outside in the cold rain, others rode school buses through flooded roadways, and in one instance, students were rescued from a bus that became stranded in a flooded ditch. It was only after this that both school systems decided that telling students to go to school that day was, well, pretty damn stupid, so they ultimately sent students back home and issued official apologies. It’s fair to assume that many parents weren’t pleased with both school systems.

UNC wasn’t spared from any backlash over their handling of class cancelations, either. After prematurely sending students home and cancelling classes days before the storm even made landfall, they had little choice but to reconvene classes last Tuesday despite the aforementioned travel concerns across the state. Many students voiced that they could’ve used additional days of recovery before returning to campus, but things could’ve been worse. The University conveyed that they will assist students with missed assignments and classes, which is the least they can do. It’s common sense, really. 

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