Harford schools reopen Thursday, but more off time right ahead

Giving Harford County students an unexpected break from class, Superstorm Sandy caused public schools to be closed for the first three days of this week.

But there's even more missed study time ahead...

Though classes finally resumed for teachers and students Thursday morning, it's the only the day the Harford students will attend until next Wednesday.

Already on the schedule before Sandy's visit were professional development days for staff Friday and Monday. Students will have those days off, too.

And, there's still more...

Tuesday is Election Day, meaning schools will be closed again, since most are used as polling places.

For those keeping score at home, that's one day of classes out of seven. Or, for the bigger picture, from last Friday to next Wednesday, one day of school in 11. Not bad odds if you're a kid, and it's not even winter holiday break.

While many counties, including Cecil, resumed classes Wednesday, Harford County Public Schools officials made the decision to remain closed.

County government officials concurred with that decision, noting that many roads remained closed because of trees and wires down and 15 percent of the county's homes and businesses still didn't have power.

"We had numerous schools without power as of [Tuesday] night," Teri Kranefeld, the Harford school system's communications manager, said Wednesday. "In addition to that, there were many roads closed throughout the county, which limited us as to where our buses could run safely."

Kranefeld pointed out that debris was still on sidewalks leading up to schools, in parking lots and surrounding streets.

"We're ensuring all facilities are safe for the return of our students and staff," she said. "Given the extensive nature of the power outages we were experiencing, it was best to err on the side of caution."

With power out for several days in some instances, Kranefeld said food service personnel would also have to check fridges and freezers for temperatures and remove any spoiled food.

The power and road closing situation improved dramatically overnight Wednesday. Only eight county roads were still closed Thursday morning, county government spokesman. All state roads in the county were open.

At 10:45 a.m. Thursday, the BGE online outage map showed 2,600 of 100,000 Harford customers still did not have power, while just 182 of Delmarva Power's Harford customers were without electricity.

Contingency plans

The Harford school calendar has eight days built into the calendar for inclement weather and emergency situations, Kranefeld said.

While the county may request a waiver for the days missed because of Sandy, that decision won't be made until after the snow season when it's clear how many days in all have been used.

"We want students in the building for instruction because that's imperative for student growth and success," Kranefeld said. "But safety has to come first."

As of Wednesday afternoon, the school system was still waiting on reports from buildings as far as readiness and road closures. Even if schools were open Thursday, she said, conditions still wouldn't be ideal.

Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad