In Saturday’s edition of The Daily Journal, we praised state, county and local officials for a job well done in keeping roads passable as much as the weather conditions would allow.
Due to a heightened state of alert and quick responses when needed, area residents experienced little but fender benders and slower traffic Wednesday through Friday after a winter storm dropped a couple of inches of snow. We applaud school district officials for erring on the side of caution each of the three days school was canceled. It would have taken only a single incident any of those days for someone to be calling for someone’s head.
A job well done indeed — but there are areas of improvement. One such area is the execution of scheduling school on Saturday. It’s not having school on the weekend anyone should take issue with — if that’s the standard in Richmond County and across the state as a way to make up lost instructional time, so be it.
However, the announcement of Saturday school left a lot to be desired. Short of being an employee of Richmond County Schools involved in the decision-making process, no one was notified about the possibility of school on Saturday until The Daily Journal and other media outlets received an email at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. In the same email that announced the closure of schools Friday for students, Mallory Brown, public relations director, wrote that officials were planning school on Saturday.
Brown wrote that the district would provide arrival and dismissal times for Saturday on Friday. When The Daily Journal asked Brown Friday for an update, she said — at 11:38 a.m. — that officials were discussed plans right then. However, the announcement was released by Richmond County Schools until 2:52 p.m. Friday — leaving precious little time for parents and caregivers, let alone teachers and support staff — time to call off any weekend plans, rearrange the necessary schedules and ensure each child would be well cared for.
As a media outlet and Richmond County’s newspaper of record, The Daily Journal is a beneficiary of receiving such announcements as quickly as a school district can push them out the door. In turn, your newspaper put the announcement on its website, www.yourdailyjournal.com, and its Facebook page as quickly as a staff member could cut and paste.
If a parent or student happened to be in front of a computer screen, the first opportunity to see it would have been about 3 p.m., or a mere 18 hours (many of them sleeping hours) before school was to begin on Saturday. In short, that’s simply not enough time to do all the rearranging and life living needed.
A better choice would have been to wait until today’s public meeting of the Richmond County Board of Education — where, after all, school officials plan to request make up days for the other two days lost anyway. There is plenty of time remaining in the school year to catch up a day here or there; to squeeze one of them in on Saturday seemed ill-advised at best. It will be interested to review the attendance reports from each school once the data is made available.