Editorial: Safety of children is job one when schools assess cancellation

Nov. 26, 2013 @ 11:07 PM

With wintry weather threatening the area Tuesday night into Wednesday, it's almost impossible not to be an armchair quarterback when it comes to the status of Sevier County schools.

Should Director of Schools Jack Parton cancel schools or shouldn't he?

Some say our schools get out way too easy. Others say officials wait too late to declare schools closed.

And those same claims are made in probably 95 of 95 counties across the state.

In reality, it's a tough judgment call the system faces every time a winter storm rolls in.

There's a lot for school officials to consider. The weather can differ greatly across the district, from Seymour to Kodak to New Center to Gatlinburg. A dusting in some locales might mean 3-4 inches in some of the remote areas near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Some of the roads, such as Chapman Highway and the Parkway, may be cleared by 8 or 9 a.m. Other, more remote, mountain passes may not be clear until a day or two later.

Priority one, as always when deciding these kind of things, should be the safety of our school children.

Days are built into the school calendar annually in case of winter weather, so, when in doubt, officials should err toward caution.

Some parents may not be happy with the choice, especially when they're looking for last minute babysitting. But that's not the fault of the school system. When winter weather is in the forecast, parents should have a plan in place ahead of time.

The decision on schools should be made for the safety of students, not in the name of convenience.

Historically, Sevier County has made the right decisions.