Icy roads again close schools; no wrecks reported


From staff reports

Friday, January 19, 2018

Road conditions in the Albemarle had improved sufficiently that no accidents believed to be weather-related were reported in either Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck or Perquimans counties Friday morning.

But with many secondary roads still covered with ice, area school officials decided to err on the side of caution and keep schools closed Friday for students.

The Elizabeth City-Pasquotank, Camden, Currituck, Perquimans and Chowan school districts remained closed for a second day following the snowstorm late Wednesday and early Thursday that dumped between 3 and 6 inches of snow on the region.

Friday was an optional work day for school staff following a three-hour delay, district officials said.

All area school districts had said on Thursday they would try to open today following a three-hour delay, but reserved the right to change that decision based on road conditions.

ECPPS said early Friday its schools would remain closed to students today because “secondary roads throughout the county remain iced over.”

In a statement later on Friday, ECPPS Superintendent Larry Cartner said the district’s transportation staff checked county roads early Friday, and that the subsequent decision to close school for students was made “with much thought and input from staff and other agencies with expertise in weather and road conditions.” 

School officials recognize that many roads in Pasquotank County are clear of snow and ice, he said. However, there were still “quite a few” that were not, he said.

“Believe us, we do not want to cancel school unless it is absolutely necessary,” he said. “We want our ECPPS family back together as soon as possible, but we have to make safety our first priority.”

Cartner said the district had posted a few photos of county roads where driving conditions were still hazardous on its website, ecpps.k12.nc.us. Among the roads where ECPPS transportation noticed icy conditions early Friday were Lynch’s Corner, Crooked Run, Sound Neck, Old Lebanon, Oak Stump, Colonial Avenue and  Main Street.

Perquimans Schools Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman said closing schools because of inclement weather “is one of the most scrutinized decisions out there.”

“What worries me the most is bus drivers’ time on the road and coming back in the evening and student drivers,” he said. “You’ll be putting a 16-, 17- or 18-year-old behind the wheel. I’d rather be wrong in everybody’s face than have one fatality.”

Asked if there had been any criticism of the district’s decision to keep schools closed on Friday, Chesseman said he hadn’t heard any. 

“There has been no pushback directly communicated to me, but what people may talk about on Facebook, I don’t know,” he said.