Late Bay County School Closings Upset Parents

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BAY COUNTY - Bay County schools will resume normal operations Thursday after being closed for the day. Many parents are still criticizing district officials for not cancelling school earlier Wednesday.

The official closure notice went out about 7:20 A.M. Wednesday, by the time many students were already on their way to school. Parents say that was way too late.

Reta Bailie had to pick up her grandchildren Wednesday morning shortly after dropping them off at Hutchison Beach Elementary.

"We got up at 5 A.M. Thunder, lightning, water everywhere," said Bailie.

Bailie is frustrated district officials didn't make the call earlier.

"They can look at radar and tell what's coming in. It's absolutely preposterous that kids have to go through this and that the schools flood and the teachers have to come, parents have to come. It's ridiculous," said Bailie.

Many parents picked up their children from school after being notified.
Others had to wait for their parents' permission to ride the bus to an empty home.

"It was chaotic to say the least for sure especially timing wise in regards to when the superintendent made the call," said Steve Moss, a school board member.

"If the real bad parts had gotten here earlier or the forecast had been different at the time, we probably would have been able to make the call earlier. Just closing the schools because of the forecast is not what we like to do," said Bill Husfelt, Bay District Schools Superintendent.

Husfelt says the district's main concern is student safety and after watching the weather forecasts, it became clear the conditions were not improving.

"There are more roads closed around here today that I've seen in a long, long time and so our worry, as I said, was mainly getting the kids back home so that's why we decided to do what we did," said Husfelt.

Students who live in low lying areas or off dirt roads will have an excused absence Thursday if a parent or guardian calls the school.