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Should APS Have Let Kids Out Early?

In a move that was probably cheered by many working parents and by anybody who spent their childhood in snowier locales, Arlington Public Schools administrators declined to take the “easy” route of letting kids out of school early at the first sign of snowflakes.

Instead, while Fairfax and Loudoun students enjoyed a two-hour early release, Arlington students toughed it out.

It was a somewhat gutsy call, because anything that goes wrong on the way home is going to to be blamed on the administrators. And yes, things did go wrong.

We heard of at least three accidents involving school buses caused by the slippery conditions yesterday. There were no injuries reported in any of the accidents, but at least one after-school accident — at Kirkwood Road and 14th Street North — did involve a bus that was carrying kids at the time.

The buses, which seem to have an tough time finding traction on hilly, snow-covered county roads, ran late as a result of the poor conditions. In at least one case, the buses were running very late, as this email from a concerned APS parent points out.

I am new to the Arlington County School system, as my oldest child just entered kindergarten this year. I was somewhat surprised yesterday when every other county let out early, but APS did not. I did receive an email from the school’s assistant principal to inform me that the buses might be somewhat delayed. However, after waiting out at the bus stop for 40 minutes (with my two other small children), I called the school to find out when I could expect the bus. I was told that 2 of the buses had not even arrived yet to pick the children up, (at 4:45, an hour after normal release time), and my 5 year old was sitting in the office at the school. When I became upset, I was told by the woman on the phone “You have to understand. Some of the roads are impassable.” I was then told it would probably be best if I just came to pick up my child.

If APS cannot insure the safe transportation of all their students during inclement weather, shouldn’t that be a factor in their decision making?

If you were a school administrator, what would you have done?

Flickr pool photo by afagen

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