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Hall schools used app to make closure determinations after snow
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Road conditions were poor early Wednesday morning, Jan. 17, 2018, along Sardis Road despite road crews spreading salt and gravel heavily. - photo by Scott Rogers

A mobile weather app that utilizes Google Maps to track and report road conditions helped Hall County school officials decide to keep students home for safety reasons during last week’s snowstorm.

“Nineteen years ago when I first became a superintendent, you’d get in a pickup truck and you’d go for a ride at 3:30 in the morning and you’d have to make a decision based on extremely limited information,” Superintendent Will Schofield said during a school board meeting Monday night.

A dozen school resource officers were dispatched in the early morning hours when the storm hit Wednesday to observe whether roads were safe for traveling for buses.  

The app allows these officers to post photos of road conditions, designate the severity of conditions using a color-coded system, with green for passable, yellow for some trouble spots and red for impassable.

During the storm and its aftermath Wednesday through Friday, 164 notices were made to the app, which is updated in real-time, with 37 green, 88 yellow and 39 red.

It was developed within the school system and allows “pins” to be placed over the Google Maps view of Hall County to identify locations where road conditions are best and worst.

“It is really a data-based way of making weather decisions,” Schofield said.

Hall County Schools were closed Wednesday and Thursday and opened on a two-hour delay Friday.

Hall County Schools have closed for eight days so far this academic year after a hurricane and snowstorms blew through the region from September to mid-January.

School officials said they will continue to update the app and better integrate it with emergency first responder systems.

“We’re looking at this map and making determinations based on real pictures, real data, sending it immediately to the county road crews,” Schofield added.

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