Harford County should have taken a snow day [Letter]

I was outraged by Harford County's decision to open schools on Monday despite the severe weather conditions, thus putting our children, bus drivers, teachers and vehicles at risk ("Sleet, snow snares roads in Harford, closes schools early," Feb. 3).

All day Sunday the forecasts remained dire, and as late as 2 a.m. there was essentially no change. If anything, the picture was getting worse. The possibility of extreme weather was clear as a bell.

I understand that weather forecasting is not a promise of what's going to happen, but it's also not a game of chance with only money to lose. The consequences of underestimating winter weather can be devastating.

Are school officials so parochial that they were unaware of the fiasco in the Atlanta area just a week earlier? The failure by Atlanta-area officials to heed the National Weather Service's winter storm warning led to a huge cost in time and money. Their mismanagement received three days of attention in the national news, and the uproar will almost certainly cost some officials their jobs. In light of Atlanta's experience the decision to open Harford County schools on Monday was just plain stupid.

My stepson and grandson were waiting at their bus stop when their bus drove right on by without stopping. Apparently the road was so slippery that the driver dared not stop on the uphill section. Father and son then drove to a nearby bus stop and waited for some time. Eventually, someone informed them that a bus and some cars had slid off the road. At that point my stepson wisely decided to keep his son home for the day.

That's the decision school officials should have made for the whole district. School buses had no business being out on the roads in those conditions.

My daughter-in-law is a teacher at a Harford County high school. When school finally let out, she had to wait quite a while to even get out of the parking lot because the school buses couldn't make it up the slight but slippery slope out of the lot. Then on her way home, an oncoming car lost control and began to fishtail at approximately 45 miles per hour. Fortunately, that car was fishtailing away from her as it went by.

That was too close for comfort, and county school officials are the reason she was in that situation. If they had done the prudent thing and canceled school to begin with, she would have been safe at home. Try to imagine how devastated our family would have been if she and her unborn child had been killed, leaving her two children without a mother.

The severity of winter is a random variable. Some winters will be average, some milder and some more severe. But it's a certainty that severe winters will happen, and we all know it. So plan for it, don't put our children's lives at risk just because Mother Nature didn't cooperate with the forecast.

Barry Robinson

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