What school systems consider when deciding to close schools

By Melissa Correa - bio | email

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - There is no sign of snow Wednesday night. But the latest forecast shows conditions will be too dangerous for school buses Thursday.

Richmond, Chesterfield and Henrico County schools will  be closed Thursday. This may not be the last snow storm of the season, so we take a at look into the decision process.

Ten months ago school buses barreled through snow and sleet, picking up students and taking them to school before classes were canceled. Wednesday night's decision to close schools is helping Margaret Williams a lot.

The grandma of 10 is the go-to gal when school is closed.

"Sometimes I've had to get off from work and let my boss know I have to leave because of my grands," said Margaret Williams.

If future forecasts aren't as dismal, schools like Chesterfield weigh options in the hours before class starts.

As early as 3:30 a.m. school employees will get on buses and drive the route. They'll then report road conditions back to the superintendent.

"Chesterfield County is a large community -- 450 square miles," said Chesterfield County Public Schools spokesman Shawn Smith.  "And it's honestly, when you look at the county, it's conceivable and it happens that conditions vary from one area of the county to the next."

Schools can decide to delay, cancel or continue classes.

"The safety and security of our students and staff is the top priority," explained Smith.

Snow and sleet kept buses parked tonight, but  schools are also checking for downed tree and power lines, water main breaks and visibility.

All of that was taken into consideration Wednesday tonight as schools cancel classes for Thursday.

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