MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – With the possibility of winter weather moving in Friday morning, Horry County Schools is reminding parents how they decide if the school district will operate on a delay or close schools.
Horry County Schools released a video explaining how district officials come to the decision to continue the school day on a regular schedule, begin on a delay or announce a cancellation when freezing temperatures, freezing rain or snow if expected.
“I watch the Weather Channel like you wouldn’t believe, especially on those types of nights,” states Director of Transportation for Horry County School Jim Wright. “I’ll get up at about 1:30 in the morning, and it depends on where the storm’s coming from which path I would take. If it’s more of a westerly path, I go one way. If it’s more north, I’ll go that way, and the whole route is about 165 miles.”
Wright’s observations from testing the roads and his input are just one step in the decision to how the county’s schools will operate. School officials say the final decision takes many people and a lot of information. A meeting is held with several school operating officials where information received from weather experts and local emergency management teams is reviewed.
“The first round is we get a call from Daryl Brown. He’s over all support services. We get emails and bulletins from the National Weather Service, Horry County management and then Mr. Brown or Dr. Maxey may say ‘we need to check the roads,'” explains Wright. “And then we’ll make a decision on where we’re at, what we’ll do.”
The decision to close or delay the school district has to be made by 5:30 a.m. The decision to have early dismissal due to bad weather must be made by 11 a.m.
Wright addresses the question of why the district can’t close one or two schools, those that may be the most affected my severe weather as in the October 2015 record flooding, by explaining school officials must look at attendance from a big picture point of view.
“We can’t look at it from just one attendance area…you have to look at if from overall how things operate,” says Wright.
He goes on to say it’s the crossover attendance line that makes it impossible to only close schools in a particular area.
Horry County school buses travel over 6.5 million miles a year covering an area of 1,140 square miles, which is the largest district in terms of land “this side of the Mississippi River,” explains Wright. Drivers transport approximately 23,500 students each day, making the decision to require kids to wait outside at the bus stop or ask parents to travel the roads to get them to school, extremely important.