Delay in closing Sevier County schools confuses some parents

Delay in closing Sevier County schools confuses some parents

Posted:
Sevier County mother Kristen Stephens was shocked to get the recorded phone message canceling school around 8 a.m. Her second-grader Dylan was already dressed and ready for school on the two-hour delay. Sevier County mother Kristen Stephens was shocked to get the recorded phone message canceling school around 8 a.m. Her second-grader Dylan was already dressed and ready for school on the two-hour delay.
Another mother posted to our Facebook page that she drove all the way to school only to find out it was closed. Another mother posted to our Facebook page that she drove all the way to school only to find out it was closed.
"To me, my child's education is everything. If he can be in school, I want him to," Kristen Stephens said. "To me, my child's education is everything. If he can be in school, I want him to," Kristen Stephens said.
The pavement on Pittman Center Road was wet Friday afternoon, meaning it was probably slick early in the morning with temperatures near freezing. The pavement on Pittman Center Road was wet Friday afternoon, meaning it was probably slick early in the morning with temperatures near freezing.

By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

SEVIERVILLE (WATE) - Sevier County Schools confused some parents Friday morning with a last minute decision to cancel classes, after first announcing they would be on a two-hour delay. We got a lot of feedback from our viewers when we posted the change on our WATE 6 News Facebook page.

"This was a huge inconvenience for parents this morning. We got a call saying a 2 hour delay however never got the call it was canceled. We drove all the way to school to have to find out it was closed," posted one mother.

Another mother, however, thinks the schools made the right call, posting a picture of treacherous road conditions and saying, "The rain added ice to the top of packed snow."

Sevier County made the change from a two-hour delay to closed entirely Friday morning about 8 a.m. With the delay, most schools were scheduled to start between 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m.

"Thursday afternoon, it looked like everything would be okay to go to school Friday and, of course, you realize we are a mountainous county, and during the night and early morning hours we had road conditions that became a situation where we had black ice," Assistant Superintendent Dr. Debra Cline to 6 News in a phone interview.

Sevier County mother Kristen Stephens was shocked to get the recorded phone message canceling school around 8 a.m. Her second-grader Dylan was already dressed and ready for school on the two-hour delay.

"I said, 'You don't have school today.' He said, 'But it's not snowing. All the snow is gone,'" Stephens told us.

That was the case in their neighborhood, but we decided to check out some other places in the county. Just a few miles away, we drove down Pittman Center Road in Sevierville.

The pavement was wet Friday afternoon, meaning it was probably slick early in the morning with temperatures near freezing. We saw ice formations still hanging from the rock faces on the side of the road and ice still covering some driveways. 

Stephens understands now why school was canceled, but she's ready for Dylan to go back to class.

"To me, my child's education is everything. If he can be in school, I want him to," she said.

Dr. Cline says the school system made the best decision it could, when it could, on behalf of all students.

"Certainly it's caused some inconvenience for folks, but we can't weight inconvenience against the lives of children," she said.

The Sevier County school system has three ways of getting word out to parents about schedule changes like this one. Like most school districts, they notify the media, they send phone messages and they post the information on their website.

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