NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) addressed potential concerns while explaining how the decision is made to close schools due to inclement weather.
MNPS said in a widely-circulated Facebook post that the district’s first priority is always safety.
The decision to close schools can be made as early as three days before a snow event.
In the event of sleet, snow, thunderstorms or heavy rain, transportation officials check road conditions for downed trees, large limbs and any other obstacles that could prevent buses from following their routes.
“We’re up at 2 a.m. and we’re on the roads by 3 a.m. Sometimes we know the night before and we’ll get out and drive even then,” said Metro Schools Transportation Director Taffy Marsh. “We can make data driven decisions based on actual road conditions and not just a forecast. Things can change over the course of a few hours and by driving the roads we can determine if the roads are really safe.”
The district footprint covers 553 square miles, which means conditions can vary widely depending on if you live in the urban corridor of metro Nashville or in a more rural part of Davidson County – like Joelton – where there are lots of hills with more narrow, curvy roads.
In addition to the snow patrols, the district keeps tabs on the local weather forecasts from meteorologists, updates from the National Weather Service and Office of Emergency Management, as well as public safety officials with Metro police and the state of Tennessee.
The district’s goal is make a decision to close by 4:30 a.m. but there may be a need to revise the decision later in the morning due to changing weather conditions.
MNPS advises parents to continue to check for updates after the initial announcement, in the event weather conditions dictate a change.
In the end, the district said the ultimate decision remains the responsibility of the parents to make the final call regarding sending their child to school.
Factors that go into making the decision to close schools:
- Weather forecasts from radio and television stations (Time snow/ice is expected to start and end)
- Amount of snow/ice accumulated
- Weather conditions expected after the snow/ice
- Assessments of road conditions by the School Transportation Department, Metro Public Works, the county Office of Emergency Management officials and various law enforcement
- School district’s assessment of school parking and accessibility of buildings
- Ability to transport children safely based on expected traffic
- The amount of time to prepare the bus fleet for deployment, including any needed repairs from bad weather or extreme cold