That sure seemed like a silly waste of time.
It snowed today in Prince William County (PWC), for the very first time this winter. Not a big deal, right? Wrong. The chaos caused by those three little inches of snow, the anxiety of car accidents and missed appointments, all of it ought to be written down in a guidebook somewhere so that other counties, towns and school districts can avoid making the same mistake.
At the very least it might save local officials from repeating the same simple traps every winter. This year, the trap was open schools and the surprise of unplowed roads. The toll? Over 170 weather-related service calls to authorities on PWC roads during the morning school commute, and countless panicked parents over the fate of their bus-bound children. There were reports of at least 12 accidents involving a school bus. Read more about the pain of snow right here.
So it snowed. And everything fell apart. Out in Haymarket – despite a weather forecast that showed a 90 percent chance of snow well in advance – roads to and from the primary schools weren’t plowed or salted. In what has become a sad local story, only some of the roads were plowed – at all – and in fact, the main drag leading to the back gate was only half plowed to the top of the hill and at the circle. By the end of the school day, many roads still weren’t plowed; the children who did go to school had what amounted to a “snow day” in the classroom, and a total waste of energy. Was the trouble caused by PWC School District’s decision to open schools, a decision that they apologized for later in the day? That doesn’t seem to be the case. After all, three inches of snow doesn’t seem like too much to keep kids from learning – but it is when plows are not running, and salt trucks are absent from roadways.
We get snow every year. Is it too much to ask to be prepared, with a standard operating procedure for school openings, closings and roadway safety? Or will we continue on this cycle of wrong way decisions, denials and apologies?