With three public school districts, winter weather related school delay and cancellation policies and procedures for students throughout Bell County are somewhat varied.
However, all three school districts say they all have one common goal — keeping their students safe when winter weather creates hazardous driving conditions.
“Weather is unpredictable and often times our decisions are questioned,” said Waylon Allen, director of pupil personnel/transportation for the Middlesboro Independent School District. “But, we do our best to ensure students are safely transported to and from school.”
Officials with the Pineville Independent School District say they take inclement weather days on a case by case basis. They first look at the conditions of the streets within the school district — the streets their buses must travel to transport students to and from schools. Next, they take into consideration the condition of other roads that students and employees must travel to be able to reach work safely.
And the Bell County School District — the district with the greatest territory to cover with buses — abide by the same general policy. Bell County Schools cancel classes if weather creates a safety concern for students and employees.
Additionally, the district has up to a two-hour delay option if hazardous road conditions are only expected to be temporary with improved conditions anticipated that would allow the start of classes a bit later in the morning.
Bell County’s decision to call off school is based on eight-weather contacts throughout the county, as well as information obtained from the three major weather service bureaus.
Middlesboro school officials monitor weather situations through the National Weather Service and through updates on road conditions from the Middlesboro Police Department.
Even though the districts do not base their decision to close on whether other districts in the county have closed, Pineville officials say they believe attendance is affected when they choose to have school when the other systems in the county cancel classes.
Although each winter weather day must be made up in the school calendar, Middlesboro and Pineville Schools did not incorporate any weather makeup days into their calendar this year.
Middlesboro currently has five emergency hours to miss without the time being added on to the school calendar.
Pineville provides students with extra instructional time each day above the minimum requirement. These extra minutes can be used to meet the minimum requirement of 1,062 hours if necessary or days may be added to the end of the original calendar.
As of Monday, Pineville had missed four days and plans to add one day to the calendar at the end of the school year.
Bell County Schools incorporated eight weather days into the calendar this year. Currently, they only have one of those days remaining. If more days are used, the current school calendar will be extended beyond its current scheduled closing date of May 10.
Reina P. Cunningham can be reached at email@example.com or at 606-248-1010, ext. 205.