The general philosophy of the Washington County School Division concerning school schedules is to always place the safety of students and employees as first priority. The division strives to operate its schools on a regular and consistent daily schedule to promote maximum student learning and general operational efficiency. Because of Washington County’s large geographical area covering 566 square miles and the wide disparity in elevation throughout the county, bordering Scott, Russell, Smyth and Grayson Counties, Bristol City, VA, Johnson County TN and Sullivan County TN, weather patterns vary a great deal during the seasons of the year, especially during the winter.
In the process of making the decision to alter the school schedule, we also consider and make use of bus-routing options. When appropriate, we have buses in some areas of the county run on a different schedule to avoid penalizing the schedule for the entire school division.
Making the decision to alter the school division’s schedule is in no way an exact science and is usually not easy, but we always try to “err” on the side of safety.
Safety of students on buses and students driving, along with school employees, is of the utmost importance in determining school schedule changes. Other important factors are whether a road is snow and/or ice covered and if there is a forecast of more snow or ice to come.
Example: Roads might be snow/ice covered at 5:00 a.m. with forecasts showing more snow/ice to come, and there would be a need to close schools; however, if roads are snow covered and the forecast is calling for the snow to stop and the temperature to rise, it is usually only necessary to go on a two (2) or three (3) hour delay. Forecasts are not always accurate, so it is necessary to continue checking roads throughout the morning on a day of delayed schedule.
Note: A three-hour delay is only expected to be used in early fall/winter and late winter/spring when temperatures may rise quickly after sunrise.
The goal is to have the announcement of school alteration to radio/television stations by 5:30 a.m. If the delayed schedule needs to be changed to closed, notification will be between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. This helps parents that may need to make alternate arrangements for their child(ren) due to the school alterations that have been made.