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Early release for Pitt County Schools' students


Brian Wudkwych
The Daily Reflector

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pitt County Schools announced an early release day for students on Wednesday due to the threat of severe winter weather. 

PCS announced the decision to let students out three-and-a-half hours early Tuesday afternoon after forecasts continued to reflect the possibility of snow and ice starting Wednesday afternoon. Early College High School students will be released at 11:45 a.m. 

Travis Lewis, public information officer for Pitt County Schools, said student safety is the most important concern when it comes to delays and cancellations. He said the school system hears feedback from transportation staff regarding road conditions, as well as the National Weather Service. 

“In the early-morning and late-night hours, we have people working around the clock to make sure our students can get to school safely,” Lewis said.

Ultimately, all of the gathered information is relayed to Superintendent Ethan Lenker, who takes other factors into consideration.

“Usually we check with neighboring school systems also to see if we’re on the same page as far as impact and then a decision is made as to what would be in the best interests of the students, whether that be potential safety hazards that would prevent them from making it to and from school safely,” Lewis said. 

PCS started monitoring the potential severe weather on Monday and felt confident enough to call for the early release.

The school calendar for the county includes potential make-up days on Jan. 23 and Feb. 26. It also has two scheduled early releases on March 13 and April 12, should those days need to be converted to full days. 

Students are faced with taking finals in two weeks, raising the concern over the academic effect potential cancellations can have. 

Lewis said the school takes missed instructional time into consideration when arranging the make-up days. 

“That might mean we have to abbreviate some of their classes, or that part of their school day will have to be rescheduled for a make-up day,” he said. “Whenever we do have to use a make-up day we try to focus on what was missed in instruction on the days we were out.”

Pitt County’s rural schools are often times more directly affected by snow and ice, Lewis said. 

“It’s a lot tougher for those roads to clear up because in the outskirts of the county, you’ve got back roads that are covered with trees and it may take longer for the sun to hit them,” he said. “It may also take longer for road clearing to occur. Those are places where our students live and we may not be able to access those homes easily.”

For now, PCS will continue to monitor the possibility of snow and ice affecting the schools past Wednesday. 

Contact Brian Wudkwych at bwudkwych@reflector.com or 252-329-9567 and follow @brianwudkwych on Twitter.