On Jan. 28, with the threat of inclement weather looming over the state of Georgia, while other metro county school systems decided to take precautions and cancel school, Fulton County remained open. When the snow began to fall around noon, school board executives and the superintendent then had to reconsider their decision. When the weather ended up creating record-setting congestion on roadways, stranding motorists on highways, shutting down schools for a week and forcing Ga. Governor Nathan Deal to declare a state of emergency, those at the top of the Fulton County School System had to convene and decide how to prevent such an incident in the future.
“The superintendent is receiving a lot of feedback and forming committees of stakeholders to help in preventing this in the future,” says Principal Duncan. “He has apologized and acted quickly to try and restore damage.” During the snowstorm in late January, many pointed fingers at the school systems, especially Fulton County, as one of the causes of the resulting congestion and overall chaos, saying that Fulton County should have heeded the warning and shut down schools in advance. “Cancelling school is a very difficult decision with considerable ramifications,” says Principal Duncan. “The superintendent depends on weather experts for advice, and it appears the GMEA should be the leading resource that originally dropped the ball. You have to err on the side of safety and with weather it is always a gamble, but your odds increase greatly with good information.”
The Fulton County School System had a chance to implement its new policy when, two weeks after the first snowstorm, the state of Georgia fell victim to another winter storm. In this case, the weather was due to arrive overnight as opposed to midday. On Monday afternoon, Fulton County declared that school would be cancelled for both Tuesday and Wednesday. The cancellation proved necessary, as once again, schools across the metro area shut down for the entire week.
However, this second round of winter weather brought about an issue. Fulton County had already scheduled in four potential cancellation days should such an event arise, but all those days had been exhausted, and the school board had to decide on how to make up four lost days of instruction, totaling around 26 hours. A recent school board meeting decided that Mar. 14, originally listed as a Teacher Work Day, will now be a normal day of instruction. This leaves 19 hours still unaccounted for, which the school board has agreed to overlook. The rest of the school year, including Spring Break and the last day of school, will remain unaffected.
With these lost days comes the struggle of catching up as far as lessons go. AP exams, end-of-course-tests and final exams have not and cannot be pushed back, meaning that both teachers and students have to work harder to make up for lost time.
(cover photo courtesy Steven Spencer via My FOX Atlanta)