How schools decide when to close or delay

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School leaders in Guilford and Winston-Salem Forsyth County Schools will hit the streets at 3 a.m. Wednesday to check road conditions.

The school systems will each decide if any ice or slick spots are dangerous for bus drivers, teen drivers or staff heading to school.

"Sometimes it's our best prediction. If the conditions of the road are dangerous, of course we're going to do a closing. If the conditions are bad early in the morning but we think after a two hour delay things are going to warm up and roadways are going to improve, then we'll do a one or two hour delay," explained Jeff Harris, director of transportation for Guilford County Schools.

"It depends on the forecast," WSFCS spokesperson Theo Helm told FOX8 over email.

"While we would like to make the decision early the night before, sometimes the forecast doesn't make that possible. If you're dealing with a forecast that fluctuates, especially if it calls for precipitation during the morning, we need to wait to see what weather conditions are like to make a decision. Tonight, for example, we'll have people checking out the roads at 3 a.m. to see if they're safe. We will make a decision by 5:30 a.m. before buses go out for their morning routes," Helm said.

Harris said it's important to remember they want students in school during regularly scheduled hours as much as possible. GCS system has an intricate system of more than 600 buses traveling at least 50,000 miles every day, and it's not easy to halt that process.

Many students depend on getting breakfast and lunch at school, too, so Harris said they don't make cancellation decisions lightly.

"On Monday of this week I was up at 3 a.m. just making sure if temperatures had fallen below freezing because they were right at 34 degrees. So it's a fine line between it's going to be a mess and everything is okay," Harris added.