Students get a break courtesy of Mother Nature

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By Jennifer Caldwell

The winter months bring more than just the chance for inclement weather for Dr. Michael Martin and other school officials.

As the temperature dips and precipitation threatens to make driving treacherous, Martin and staff are often forced to don the hat of amateur weather forecaster in addition to the responsibilities of educating area students.

According to Martin, decisions, like the ones he was faced with last Thursday and Friday and then again early this week, are not taken lightly.

In order to make the most informed decisions about weather related school closings, Martin said he utilizes a variety of weather services, staff members and law enforcement agencies.

When the weather service located in Morristown began predicting severe temperature drops with wind chills of 20 degrees below zero last week, Martin said he felt like closing school was his only option.

“Can people criticize me for the decision? Probably, but when I have kids standing out at bus stops and hypothermia is a real threat, going ahead with school was a risk I couldn’t take,” the director of schools said explaining his decision.

When weather presents the potential for hazardous roadways, Martin said information from a variety of sources is considered when making the decision to cancel classes.

“Information is funneled to me from bus drivers, supervisors and building principals in a number of different locations. 

On days when the weather is questionable our day starts as early as 3 a.m. so I can make the most informed decision,” Martin said of the protocol used determine school closure.

While Martin said he is confident in the procedures used, he admits nothing is infallible.

“Most of the time the forecast is right, but sometimes they (weather forecasters) get it wrong. When I’m dealing with the safety of students I would rather ere on the side of caution,” Martin concluded.