It takes teamwork to close schools during inclement weather - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

It takes teamwork to close schools during inclement weather


As Hurricane Sandy made its way along the coast, many of you were watching its track, and judging by some of your Facebook comments, you were waiting for word on whether or not your child's school would be open the next day.

Some of you wondered why it seemed to be taking so long for various school systems, including Richmond Public Schools, to make decisions on closing schools.

We spoke with Andy Hawkins, the Chief Operating Officer for Richmond Public Schools. He is a key member in helping to decide whether or not the system's 54 buildings will close in inclement weather.

"We were concerned about how much rain was going to fall, how high the winds were going to be. We have about 15,000 children who ride school buses everyday in Richmond. Could the school buses topple over, would they be turned over because of the wind damage?" said Hawkins.

The answers to all of these questions were discussed by a group on the Thursday before the storm. The group was made up of not only the superintendent and her team, but also city representatives, the local emergency response team, the police department, the highway department, Dominion Power, and the American Red Cross. The list goes on, and adds up to close to75 people sitting at a table, listening to the forecast, and figuring out the best decision.

"We didn't really know what the impact was going to be, so we waited as long as we could," said Hawkins.

The superintendent spoke with other area superintendents to see if they were on the same page. After that, she made the ultimate call for Richmond Public Schools around 1 p.m. Sunday, and parents were notified.

Hawkins says it takes many people to weigh many options when it comes to school closings, no matter the district.  

"We're trying our best to protect and keep their children safe," said Hawkins.

During any type of severe weather or emergency, it is important for parents to keep up with their school system's website as well as the media.

However, parents, it is also important for you to make sure your child's school has your most updated information, including cell phone numbers and email addresses.

Richmond public school students will not have to make up the days missed due to Hurricane Sandy.

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