When schools close
Editor’s note: The Orange County Schools released this statement after delaying school opening earlier this week.
The decision to close or delay schools is a weighty topic. The decision is never taken lightly. There are procedures in place to check current and predicted weather events that may have an impact on road conditions and school operations. This includes contacting the National Weather Service, Law Enforcement, State Department of Transportation, Orange County Emergency Management, and other agencies.
Past weather events may not be great predictors of future weather events. The Orange County Schools system embraces the concept that the type of weather expected cannot always be predictable or determined to occur at an exact time period. Because of the size of Orange County, we can experience hazardous conditions in one area of the county and not in another.
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When there is an anticipated weather event, district staff monitors the weather updates from the National Weather Service throughout the day and night. Changes in the weather can occur at what seems like the snap of a finger, and our decision making process has to be responsive. This requires constant updates and assessments from all areas in our district.
The safety of our students and staff is paramount. The school system does not and will not gamble with their safety. School buses and young high school drivers can face particularly daunting driving conditions under inclement weather. Our earliest bus routes have some of our school buses on the road at 5:30 a.m. And, the National Weather Service will, at times, issues warnings that inexperienced drivers should stay off the roadways when potentially hazardous conditions may exist.
“"We understand that our decisions regarding weather impact nearly 7,500 families and 1,500 employees; their safety is our number one priority,” said Superintendent Todd Wirt. “We know that when we do cancel schools that we have many students that will not get the two hot meals that we provide them every single day, and we strongly consider the number of high school age drivers we have and their inexperience in driving.”
“Our staff spends hours riding roads and collaborating with local agencies in order to have the most current and accurate information at our disposal. At the end of the process, we always make the decision that we believe will keep our students and staff safe and will never apologize for that,” Wirt added. “When hazardous conditions do exist, OCS staff works around the clock to clear parking lots, sidewalks, and building entrances/exits. Then, when school reopens, students and staff can have safe passage to school and work.
Orange County Schools appreciates your continued support and understanding. For the latest in weather updates and school news, follow OCS Twitter and Facebook pages, in addition to the district website.
Orange County Schools
A cultural icon
Feb. 1 was National Freedom Day, an annual observance honoring the resolution signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 which eventually became the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution outlawing slavery.
As we ponder the meaning of National Freedom Day, I’d like to honor John Hope Franklin, a kind and humble man who was a Durham resident, passionate civil rights advocate, noted historian, and scholar.
Sometimes referred to as “the Dean of African American historians,” Dr. Franklin passed away in Durham nearly nine years ago on March 25, 2009, at the age of 94. It occurred to me that newcomers may not know of his contributions or that he lived in Durham for much of his life.
One of Dr. Franklin’s most revered works is a book he researched and wrote from 1945-1947 while living in Durham. First published in 1947, “From Slavery to Freedom: A History of African Americans” has been acclaimed for profoundly changing the way African Americans were viewed and studied.
Franklin taught at N.C. Central University as well as Duke University, where he was named a James B. Duke Professor Emeritus. Duke established the John Hope Franklin Center for Interdisciplinary and International Studies in 2001 to honor him. A Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient, he was also named Historian of the Century jointly by Duke, NCCU, NC State, and UNC.
As we ease into February, I hope you’ll pause to remember the legacy of a great man not only in Durham’s history, but a cultural and historical icon of our nation.
Shelly Green is the president and CEO of the Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau