Local school districts’ early dismissals and school closings last week coincided with a severe weather warning, which caused some parents to express disappointment online.
Orange County Schools and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools announced on their Facebook pages Thursday morning that there would be a two-hour early dismissal in anticipation of severe weather. It was during that time when Orange County was placed under a severe thunderstorm warning as a line of storms passed through the county.
Jeff Nash, executive director of community relations for CHCCS, said the district does everything they can to keep their children and staff safe. He said they work with emergency management officials and neighboring districts to determine the best course of action.
“A lot of our staff work in other districts, and sometimes if those districts are closing then they have their children that they need to tend to, and we need to make sure we have enough people here to take care of our students, as well,” Nash said.
Sara Pitts, director of environmental health and safety for OCS, said when they called for the early release they did not expect the weather to pick up until later in the afternoon.
“We were going to pull a two-hour early release in order to get the buses off the road and have everyone home safely before the winds pick up,” Pitts said.
Pitts said around 12:45 p.m., they got the call about the high winds. She said the buses were not allowed to leave until the high wind warning was gone. Pitts said when the tornado warning came, school officials responded accordingly.
“Again, we went over our emergency radios and told everyone that we were in a tornado warning, we needed to get everyone to shelter in place,” Pitts said. “We pulled all the bus drivers in because they would have been on-site in their buses — we pulled them all back in.”
Pitts said staff went outside to tell parents who were in the carpool lane that they could come get their children and take them home, but they were encouraging everyone to shelter-in-place at the schools. She said after the warnings expired, the buses were allowed to leave.