Earlier in this week of subzero temperatures and chill factors, lots of folks got riled with the school system. It had nothing to do with knocking, stepping, spitting or slandering. Those folks were angry because they were inconvenienced and became very frustrated. That is understandable.
When school is canceled unexpectedly, it causes a huge problem for working parents.
If major roads are closed, most likely the parents’ workplaces are closed, too. But when the roads open, parents are expected to report to their jobs even if schools remain closed.
For some, it is not a problem. Family members, friends or neighbors may be able to help out. A lucky few may be allowed to take their children to work with them.
In some cases, the children are left home alone with the older children expected to take care of the younger. That may or may not be a good thing.
It is hard for a mom or a dad to work when they are worrying about the safety of their children. Yet, staying home with them results in a loss of badly needed pay.
At the same time, there is cause to worry when schools do not close during bone-chilling days. Frostbite is a real concern.
Not all children have warm clothing to wear when they are waiting at the bus stop for a bus that is 20 minutes late because it would not start in the freezing cold or is slipping and sliding on icy roads.
Not to be forgotten is the increased possibility of accidents on the icy roads involving school buses, school system employees, parents or teen drivers.
Using the school system’s Facebook page, those who favored closing and those opposed expressed their very different opinions.
There were comparisons to school closings in other states with one saying that sure it is cold here, but it is not like we are in Alaska.
Another objected that even though schools were closed because of icy conditions, parents were letting their kids go have fun in places like Wal-Mart.
One writer said her children were at home doing nothing when they should be in school learning. Someone responded that she could be teaching them at home during the days they were out.
Many posted they were enjoying having the children home with them, but others said their kids were driving them up the wall and they were ready to get them out of the house.
Of course, there were many who thanked School Superintendent Dr. Frank Petruzielo for putting the safety of the children first and closing schools. They thought it was the right thing to do.
One writer acknowledged it is hard to please everyone.
Sometimes in our frustration we forget that the No. 1 responsibility of our Board of Education is not teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. It is to keep the children safe. Usually, as has been true this week, schools are closed for that reason.
School Board Chair Janet Read explained how the decision was made to close the schools when she posted, “I have seen comments that range from gratefulness, to ridicule to downright hatefulness. I am sorry that keeping the kids home from school for two extra days inconvenienced parents and others.”
She continues, “However, we are not in the convenience business. We are in the education business and the safety of our students has to come first when making decisions, especially those related to cold weather conditions.”
“I am proud to be the chairman of a school district where students come first in every decision!”
Now I think the chairman should keep that explanation handy, for this debate has gone on for decades and it will continue. She will have the opportunity to use it again.
For when in the future there are frigid temperatures and icy roads causing schools to be closed, there will be more comments that “range from gratefulness, to ridicule to downright hatefulness.”
Personally, as a grandparent of a child in Cherokee County Schools, I am glad we have a board chairman who puts our children first in making decisions.
Too, I am glad she is willing to take the flack when critics are not their nicest or even nasty in their comments.
Elvis, whose 79th birthday was on Wednesday, also sang, “Don’t be cruel to a heart that’s true.” In her role as BOE Chairman, Janet Read has her heart in the right place.
Marguerite Cline is former mayor of Waleska.