Pee Dee schools plan for possible bad weather

school bus
Florence School District Three finalized its budget for the coming school year Thursday evening.

DARLINGTON, SC (WBTW) – A cold, steady rain has been falling all Friday evening long in Darlington, and while this storm is hitting over a weekend, that doesn’t mean school officials aren’t thinking about what to do come Monday, and how to make that decision.

“We’re monitoring the weather very closely,” said Darlington County Schools Public Information Officer Audrey Childers. She said keeping students and staff safe is a top priority all across the county.

“We are such a rural district,” Childers explained. “So many of our roads are dirt roads, back roads, secondary roads, so while those main roads may look clear, it doesn’t mean those back roads are clear.”

She said because of this, the first step of the district’s plan is to fan out and assess road conditions as early as 4 a.m. That includes actually driving the roads to see if it’s safe for others.

“They are careful to check out areas that in we know in the past have been slower to warm up,” Childers said. “They’ll make sure to check those areas in particular.”

Childers explained that it can be hard to tell from a glance if a road is frozen, especially in the early-morning hours.

“Our buses are out on the road when it’s still dark in the morning, and black ice is very hard to spot, so that’s a big concern,” she said.

Six out of every ten Darlington County students ride a bus to get to and from school every day. Childers added that since buses are sometimes hard to get going on cold mornings,

“We don’t want our children standing at a bus stop when it’s really, really cold, and then have buses break down.”

The school district gathers information from county emergency management, and asks surrounding school districts about their plans before it makes a final decision around 5:30 a.m. Parents will be notified through the district’s phone system, but Childers asked parents to be patient with the process.

“We’re gonna do the very best that we can with the best information that we can to make sure our students and staff are safe,” she promised.

Stay tuned to News 13 on air and online for a complete listing of weather-related closings and delays.