Henrico admits it 'messed up' in waiting to close schools

By Gene Petriello - bio | email

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) -- School Districts across our area made some late calls this morning to close schools, after inches of snow fell and accumulated on the roads. Henrico School leaders tell NBC12, they "messed up" this morning in make a late call.

Around 7 a.m. this morning, our camera captured a Henrico School Bus, with flashing lights, ready to pick up some kids. It is a school bus that we were barely able to see, about 15 minutes before the school district decided to close all schools on Wednesday.

"We're going to own that. We messed up this morning and we apologize for that, making it difficult for some parents," says Henrico School Spokesman Mychael Dickerson.

Those parents included people like Kristin Gifford. She was waiting for her son's school bus on this snow covered side road. We told her around 7:30 this morning, the schools were closed.

"I'm glad that they are closed and for all of the kids safety, absolutely. A little frustrated though, because I think they should have done it earlier," says Kristin.

In fact, we captured the scene at J.R. Tucker High School around 6:45 this morning. We saw the snow, already filing up in the parking lot. It had been accumulating there since around 6 Wednesday morning.

We were also able to capture the snow on the side roads. There, it piled up as well. In fact, we caught the tire mark of a parent waiting with her son to get on the bus. Moments after she left, the tire marks were snow covered.

The school district says at around 4:30, 5:00 this morning, they talked with the transportation department and determined the roads were fine, that the schools could open on time.

"At 5:00 AM, we didn't see anything out there. We thought we could come to school. That's obviously the wrong call at this point," says Dickerson.

Some elementary students were on buses to school. Bus drivers were told of the closure and that's when they took students back home. If no parent was home, the kids were taken to the school until a parent could be reached.

As of 9:00 AM, school leaders were confident most kids were back at home.

Little Adrian was glad to find out he had the day off from school, but felt bad for his fellow classmates who may have been stuck in the classroom.

"That's torture! I'm telling you! That's like staying in prison," says Adrian.

It was a late call by the school district, but one they say is important to be late, than to be sorry. They add that safety is their top priority.

We asked if the late decision had anything to do with all the recent snow days, keeping kids out of the classroom. Dickerson says that had nothing to do with today's decision.

The district says once they made the call to close schools, they were able to send out thousands of calls to people within 10 to 15 minutes, letting them know of the closure.

Chesterfield and Richmond Schools also made late calls today about the operation status of their schools. We will have more on that part of the story, coming up later this afternoon.

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