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Cherokee Schools Head Explains Decisions During January Big Snow

Canton was added to winter storm warnings late in the day, after school leaders had already decided to let classes out early, the superintendent said of last month's chaotic storm.

Canton school and law enforcement officials are preparing for this week's latest winter storm. File|Patch
Canton school and law enforcement officials are preparing for this week's latest winter storm. File|Patch

The decision by Cherokee County Schools officials to hold school the day the late-January snowstorm buried the area was made based on weather forecasts that called for Canton to get only an inch of snow, the school superintendent said at the Feb. 6 board meeting.

Superintendent Frank Petruzielo said, “The timeline for our response to last week’s inclement weather began with advance tracking, starting Sunday, in cooperation with the Cherokee County Emergency Management Agency,” the Cherokee Tribune reports.

The decision to hold school on the day the snowstorm buried the region was made using the most recent information from the National Weather Service, Petruzielo said, an inch of snow would fall between 1 and 8 p.m. in Cherokee.

“Our surrounding districts, with the exception of Pickens to the north, all held school on Tuesday,” he said in the Tribune story. “Had we or our neighboring school systems known the speed or severity of this storm further in advance, we would never have held school on Tuesday.”

District staff members are reviewing the inclement weather process, and “implementing necessary adjustments and changes.”

“The school district weathered this storm,” Petruzielo said, thanking staff and administration across the district. “We’ve received literally hundreds of messages of gratitude from parents. We’ve also heard from a few upset and frustrated parent. To address concerns, we are reviewing our inclement weather protocols and already have held a senior staff debriefing to begin talking about what we can do better.”

In an earlier post on the district’s website, Petruzielo said he was among those stranded by the January storm, not getting home until that Wednesday evening.

He wrote in part: “Knowing that our community’s children had to spent the night away from home breaks every educators’ heart including my own, and I am so grateful for the job our staff did to care for these children.  Our schools that sheltered students overnight kept them safe, warm, fed and entertained.

And as I drove on the icy roads, I thought of our bus drivers and their skill and strength that guided them to transport children safely home, and of our public safety agency partners who assisted in evacuating stranded buses so that no child or driver had to stay in a bus overnight.”

Read the full story at: Cherokee Tribune - Superintendent Petruzielo addresses Snowjam concerns 

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