Lowcountry schools defend decision not to dismiss students early - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Lowcountry schools defend decision not to dismiss students early

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BEAUFORT CO., SC (WTOC) -

Did school officials in Atlanta drop the ball when preparing for the winter storm? That's the question on a lot of people's mind today, especially parents.

Hundreds of students were stranded on buses and at schools when the storm hit, and some parents say none of that would have happened if students were dismissed a lot earlier. 

Beaufort and Jasper counties chose not to dismiss their students on Tuesday as the storm was coming. It's a decision that both districts stand by, but some parents don't agree. 

"I think they should have dismissed [them] just cause of the number of bridges down here," said parent Terri Harrison. "By the time we got home, around 4 p.m., the temperature was at 31 degrees, so the roads could have ice over by then." 

All students in both counties are normally dismissed no later than 3:30 p.m.

"The main thing we watched Tuesday was temperatures and everything we saw led us to believe that the temperature was not going to be below freezing until much later in the day," said Jim Foster, spokeman for Beaufort County Schools.

But some parents, like Harrison, say Atlanta school officials thought the same thing.

Forster also says the district stayed in communication with DOT and Emergency Management to check on bridges.

"I'm sure those people in Atlanta didn't want that to happen to those kids," said Harrison.

The district said it wasn't raining or snowing before it was time for school to end, so there wasn't a need to panic.

"If we had seen that the storm was coming faster than expected we would have moved very quickly to send kids home," said Foster.

Beaufort County High parent Mike Thorpe agrees with the way the district handled things.

"This is just something that we're not used to living here," he said. "I think they handled it well."

"We had no problem," said Foster.

Beaufort County Schools were back in session Thursday morning, and Jasper County students return back to school Friday morning.

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