Complete coverage of the winter storm:
- Officials: Stay alert even as roads improve slightly
- Residents thankful for few places that are open
- Government agencies prioritize roads to be cleared
- Schools close again, taking things ‘day by day’
- VIEW: Photos taken by The Times' photographers
- VIEW: Photos submitted by The Times' readers
Potentially dangerous road conditions have forced area schools to close for a third day this week.
Hall County and Gainesville City school systems made a decision at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday to shut down schools today after superintendents consulted with road crews and neighboring school districts.
“The scope of the storm has put emergency crews on priority, so side streets and some main streets that would’ve been addressed in a small storm have not been,” Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Merrianne Dyer said Tuesday.
Schools could be delayed or closed again this week as the freezing temperatures are expected to stay around. Forecasters report travel conditions may not improve significantly until Friday.
Dyer said it’s unclear if students will return to school this week.
“We have to take it day by day, but from what we know now, the temperatures will not rise enough for any significant thawing, so it’s not looking very likely,” Dyer said.
With today’s closure, students in both systems will have missed four days of school due to winter weather. Gainesville removed one snow day last month, after the school board voted to exchange an April 1 furlough day for a Dec. 16 snow day.
Despite those closures, some local students will continue their studies this week.
Lakeview Academy in Gainesville will test its “remote school” today, originally established in case the school had to close due to an influenza outbreak. The remote school has never been used until now, communication director Sondra Berry said.
“Going into our third day of closures it makes sense to use,” Berry said. “Instead of students sitting at home with nothing to do, they can go ahead and learn. We have a lot technology at the school and we’re going to utilize that.”
Each of the middle and upper school students are equipped with laptops and teachers will send out up to 45 minutes of school work.
“They get to learn and still have time to go outside and enjoy the snow,” Berry said.
Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield said officials there will have to meet and discuss how to make up lost time. The state allows four emergency snow days in the calendar before districts need to reschedule the days later in the year.
The school boards would determine when those days are planned.
“Everything has challenges in terms of making up days, but what makes the most sense is tacking them onto the end of the school year,” Schofield said, adding that the board could weigh other options.
Schofield said the loss of classroom time is a growing concern for school staff. Furlough days and snow days have led to a shortened academic year.
At the high school level, graduation tests will be delivered this March followed by end of course tests, which account for 15 percent of students’ grades.
“We’ll keep on evaluating to make sure we have enough instructional time before students are tested,” Dyer said.
The wintry conditions also postponed Tuesday’s scheduled work session for the Hall County school board. Existing board members Brian Sloan, Sam Chapman and new board member Bill Thompson were also to be sworn in Tuesday.
The session will be rescheduled for a later date, Schofield said.
Area superintendents expect to make a decision sometime this afternoon on whether to delay or close schools Thursday.