After severe weather warnings, News 13 Investigates the process for school closure

CONWAY, SC (WBTW) – News 13 investigated why schools closed or delayed this week during severe weather on Wednesday after viewers questioned district decisions.

Thousands of people were notified Tuesday afternoon that Horry County Schools was closed Wednesday due to severe weather.

“It’s bizarre. To me, it really is just bizarre,” said Kirsti Oles.

Oles’s son is a kindergartner at Waccamaw Elementary. She says Wednesday she waited for the storms to come through, but they didn’t.

“For them to sit here and lose the day of school for sunshine and 35 minutes of rain,” said Oles.

Oles recently moved to Horry County from Nebraska. She says there were stricter requirements for canceling school there; including during tornado warnings.

She says she understands why the district made the decision, but doesn’t agree with it.

“I would have asked that they may be held off a little bit and waited maybe until the next morning to see if it was going to pass, or if it wasn’t going to be as terrible as they said it was going to be; because it turned out not as terrible as they said it was going to be,” said Oles.

Horry County Schools need to make a decision to close by 5:30 am. The district made its decision 12 hours earlier the previous day. News 13 asked Horry County Chief Officer, Daryl Brown, why the district did not hold off.

‘The information that we received from all of the weather sources said it was going to be a rough situation for us,” said Brown.

Brown is part of the team that decides whether or not the schools will close.

He says based on information from the National Weather Service and the county’s emergency management services the district made the decision it felt was best for the students.

“We’re always going to err on the side of caution,” said Brown.

However, not every district closed entirely.

Florence School District 1 chose early dismissal.

According to weather reports, they released students only an hour before severe weather was expected to hit.

District 1 officials say they were notified storms would hit between 1- 4pm. So they moved their dismissals to 11 a.m. and noon.

District officials say they would have either had to let them go before the storm, like they did, or possibly after and during because they are not able to keep students in class past 4p.m.

An email News 13 obtained from Horry County Schools from the State Department of Education says wind speeds of 30 mph can greatly impact steering control of buses and have a force on the buses exceeding 500 pounds. Wind speeds reached upwards of 50 mph.

Horry county students will have to make up yesterday’s day off.


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