CHARLOTTE – Winter does not officially begin for another three weeks but Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools are already preparing for bad weather.
In the past, the district canceled schools during winter storms even though the entire district may not be impacted by the weather. The district unveiled a new plan Wednesday that they hope will keep kids in school and help parents avoid having to look for babysitters.
Up until now, during bad weather Charlotte Mecklenburg schools had two options, to stay open or close.
"We just had too many buses and too many students riding buses,” Superintendent Dr. Peter Gorman said. "We couldn't make it fit and work, now we can."
Cuts in transportation this year means buses don't have to travel as far, which now adds a third option, a two hour delay. Already used in surrounding districts, it allows more time for conditions to improve before buses hit the road. It also reduces the need for make-up days.
"If we see conditions that are adverse at 4:30 (a.m.), we're confident by the time buses roll two hours later that it would be safe. We now have the opportunity to do that," Guy Chamberlain, CMS Associate Superintendent for Auxiliary Services, said.
While snow days are often fun for students, they can be difficult for working parents who have to figure out childcare on short notice. While under a two hour delay parents won't have to find childcare for the entire day. However, some say it could still cause some hardships.
"Especially for parents that have to be at work at a certain time, that means they're going to have to make other arrangements to get their kids to the bus area," caretaker Margaret McMichael said.
That's why the district unveiling the option early, so parents can plan ahead.
"I do want to stress that if we're going to err, we're going to err on the side of caution," Chamberlain said.
While it's a new option, district leaders stress that closing schools will continue to be considered as well.