Despite widespread warning of torrential rains and flash flooding, Frederick County Public Schools carried on Wednesday as if the sun were shining.

Everything was to stay on schedule, including closing the schools on time. Except that by dismissal time, many roads around the county were underwater, and school buses were trying to weave their way around the flooding. The county reported more than 80 roads were closed at some point during the storm.

This could have been a disaster, and it very nearly was.

One bus with 10 children aboard was trapped on a rural road in Thurmont, and first responders from the county sheriff’s office, fire and rescue, and other agencies had to rush to the scene to rescue the children and driver.

If you have not already seen it, take a look at the photo of the school bus surrounded by water and tilted over at a dangerous angle. Think for a moment about what might have happened had the bus toppled and the children were plunged into the rushing waters.

After the dangerous water rescue, the sheriff’s office ordered all buses that were still on the roads to turn around and return the students to school. We’re appreciative, as we’re sure parents were, that the sheriff’s office made that call.

Parents were told to pick up their children, but some students were not collected until several hours after their original dismissal. Even still, with flooded streets and parking lots around many schools, some parents and students had to trek through the water to escort their children out.

Neighboring Montgomery and Howard counties both dismissed their students early Wednesday due to the weather, but Frederick schools chose to remain open. We’re not sure why.

FCPS Superintendent Terry Alban apologized to parents, students and the community by Wednesday evening for the decision, as well she should have.

“Our decision to remain open for a full day led to last-minute changes for families, along with stress and anxiety for many,” Alban wrote in a statement. “For that, I am deeply sorry. My first priority is to keep students and staff safe. I am grateful that everyone was able to get safely to their homes.”

We know that making opening and closing decisions about weather events isn’t easy. We can count several times in recent years where school was canceled for impending snow that never arrived. Parents likely weren’t happy with that call either. But at least in those cases, we knew the school system erred on the side of student safety in its logic.

But perhaps that’s the most perplexing part of Wednesday’s decision. Meteorologists have been predicting for days that the remnants of Hurricane Ida would pass over the western portion of Maryland, bringing heavy rains and winds.

Given Frederick’s propensity to flood during these storms, a day off from school — or an early dismissal — would have made sense. There was enough notice of the storm that teachers could have even sent home extra homework on Tuesday in preparation for a potential school closure.

Closing schools on Wednesday would have been the safe, best choice. It’s the kind of choice we would expect the next time a situation like this occurs.

(15) comments

Riptide262

The bigger question is why a bus driver would drive a bus full of kids into standing water?

francesca_easa

Bottom line is PARENTS it is up to YOU to make the best decision for YOUR children and to ensure they are safe. If it was a potentially dangerous situation to have your kids walk through a storm or take a chance on getting stranded going home because of the repeated flooding that goes on in this area, why would you risk sending your kids to school?????

NewMarketParent

@francesca_easa

While what you are saying makes some sense, it really doesn't cover everything. It is really difficult for parents to know what route a bus takes. We are trusting that both the BOE and FCPS staff have the children's best interests in mind. We also trust that school leadership will make sure that they have the best/most information to help them with the decision making process. It is also reasonable to expect them to make good decisions and be willing to admit fault while addressing any corrective measures to make sure that a particular fault won't occur due to a repetitive set of circumstances.

What we witnessed here was an adult who simultaneously took no fault and doubled-down on standing by a decision that seemed pretty bad both in fore and hind-sight. That cannot be the way that we address poor decision making and is indicative of a low maturity level for an adult. Adults are supposed to model the behavior that they want their kids to exhibit. When adults refuse accountability, what do we expect of our children?

gjthuro

Bad decision by supposed professionals

Awteam2021

What are you supposing? What profession?

Are you supposing a ‘heart surgeon’ can fix your car or vice verses? Is the profession In public education, meteorology or traffic safety ? How does the county want to make that call in managing in whether to close or stay open because of roads closings before they flood, potential of snow accumulation, icy roads, heavy rains, tornadoes and other weather conditions?

The return of buses was decided by the sheriff’s office after the roads were found to be impassable . Jenkins made a good call in an emergency situation and past it to our school administrators. We suffered no injuries, no casualties, no fatalities.

Going forward, traffic safety due to climate changing conditions will be more prevalent. We need to decide how we manage division calls.

What’s your profession, expertise?

jth7100

Check out this gang and read the "ISSUES" section of their site. I am so glad our kids have graduated from FCPS.

https://eni2022.com/

Brookhawk

Politics aside - they just blew it and they are darned lucky a lot of kids weren't injured because of it.

public-redux

Yup. I don’t see how this is political at all.

DickD

Alban refuses to admit her mistake when anyone with common sense would have let out school or cancelled school Wednesday.

So much for all of the PHD degrees when the recipient lacks common sense.

HappySeller2014

Good to see Montgomery County schoolkids have interaction with their teachers and fellow classmates when unfortunately in quarantined status...

https://wtop.com/montgomery-county/2021/09/we-have-faced-challenges-this-week-updated-quarantine-guidance-at-montgomery-county-public-schools/

Oh well, not happening currently in Frederick County. Although there was an entire summer to plan for it. My understanding is many FCPS students in quarantine status over these past two weeks are just sitting around, responding to teacher assignments on Schoology, whenever they happen to be posted.

But not suprising also that Frederick County is yet again behind the curve. Last Wednesday it seems Montgomery and Howard Counties got their busing situations taken care of well as the remnants of Hurricane IDA passed through.

Who is leading FCPS? Asleep at the wheel? Distracted, or clueless? Incompetent? Spooked and paralyzed by the "unexpected?" Why are FCPS students always bringing up the rear when FCPS executives are in indecision or wrong decision mode, when compared to neighboring Maryland county school systems? You would think FCPS executives were closely monitoring and interacting with fellow local school jurisdictions to share ideas, plan out future actions, and remain abreast of succes stories...or I guess, not?

Dwasserba

“…as if the sun were shining.” Subjunctive tense! I love it. But I feel bad for the bus driver.

HappySeller2014

Excellent writeup by the FNP. Hopefully, a new FCPS Superintendent will be making the responsible, correct call next time...even if it needs to be made in two weeks.

I am flabbergasted that we still have not received any public statements from the FCPS School Board! We know Liz wants Alban fired, but anyone else have a statement? Or do we have a School Board full of wet noodles with jellyfish backbones?

Plumbum

School board don’t like Liz. So whatever she says, they do the opposite, because it came from her

bayoumomma

We can always count on Liz Barrett to offer her two cents. Spare me the melodrama that she brings to every issue. When is the election again???

Aperiodic.Moralist1

Where are Jay Mason and Karen Yahoo? Why are they quiet on this important issue of Alban’s incompetency and failures?

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. No vulgar, racist, sexist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, not personal attacks or ad hominem criticisms.
TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
Be civil. Don't threaten. Don't lie. Don't bait. Don't degrade others.
No trolling. Stay on topic.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
No deceptive names. Apparently misleading usernames are not allowed.
Say it once. No repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link for abusive posts.

Thank you for reading!

Already a member?

Login Now
Click Here!

Currently a News-Post subscriber?

Activate your membership at no additional charge.
Click Here!

Need more information?

Learn about the benefits of membership.
Click Here!

Ready to join?

Choose the membership plan that fits your needs.
Click Here!