By Nathan Ham
School buses will be out and about early on Thursday morning as Watauga County Schools will be back in session on January 3.
The Christmas and New Year’s break was cut a bit short after snowfall has already forced students to miss 10 days of class in November and December. Including the one day of school missed in September due to flooding, Watauga County students have missed 11 days of school.
This is the most days of school missed in Watauga County before the Christmas break since records were kept in 1975.
With winter just now starting, chances are fairly high that more school will be missed during the rest of the 2018-19 year. The process for deciding whether or not to close school begins either the night before if it is a big snowfall, or during early morning hours when a team of school system personnel get out on the roads throughout different parts of Watauga County and report on conditions. A decision on school is normally announced by 6 a.m. and is ultimately made by Dr. Scott Elliott, the superintendent.
When school days are missed, the process for making up those days can vary. Sometimes holiday breaks, such as Christmas and Spring Break are cut short to make up the time, or days are added on at the end of the year. Saturday school may also be used as a makeup day for a day missed during that same week. Saturday school will take place on no more than two Saturdays in a four-week period.
School closings, delays and early dismissals will be announced through the automated Watauga County Schools phone messaging system, online at www.wataugaschools.org, Twitter @scottelliott_nc, by email for families that have provided an email address, on the snowline at 828-264-0200, on the Ray’s Weather Center website and through the following radio and TV stations: WATA 1450 AM, WECR 102.3 FM, WZJS 100.7 FM, WMMY FM 106, WXIT 1200 AM, WBTV 3, WCNC 36, WCYB 5, WGHP 8, WJHL 11, WSOC 9 and WXII 12.