Metro Atlanta schools to close Monday amid icy road forecast

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Metro Atlanta schools to close Monday amid icy road forecast

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The threat for slick roads could begin as early as 1 a.m. in northwest Georgia.

Metro Atlanta school districts announced they will be closed Monday because of possible icy roads.

Clayton, Cobb, Atlanta, DeKalb, Gwinnett, Fulton, Paulding, Decatur, Marietta, Forsyth, and Douglas schools will be closed Monday, the districts announced in a flurry Sunday evening.

Also closed are Rockdale County Public Schools, Hall County Schools, Cherokee County School District, Fayette County Public Schools, and Woodward Academy.

Forsyth schools announced an “online learning day” instead of a traditional school day. Students are to check the district’s website for instructions.

A wintry mix of freezing rain or other ice could hit early, but the weather is expected to rise to about 41 degrees into the afternoon, according to Channel 2 Action News weather.

Fulton County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools also have acknowledged the heavy traffic expected Monday afternoon because of the college football championship game to be played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium and a visit from President Donald Trump. Fulton schools already warned parents that school buses were going to be delayed in bringing students home Monday.

APS issued a statement Sunday that mentioned both the weather and the expected traffic. The Atlanta Board of Education will still meet Monday to swear in officers, but it will postpone later sessions planned for the afternoon and evening.

The decision to close schools in metro Atlanta varies depending on each school district’s policies. 

So how do these school districts decide when to close or delay classes in the case of potentially bad weather? 

 In some cases, school districts have been criticized by some parents for not closing early enough, like the infamous Snow Jam of 2014, when some school buses were stuck on area roads for hours as they left after the precipitation started. Sometimes, schools are heckled for closing school when no bad weather comes. Sometimes, they’re taken to task for not closing at all. 

The first step, officials say they take, is to monitor forecasts from the National Weather Service and local newscasts. 

Atlanta’s school system coordinates with the Atlanta-Fulton County Emergency Management Agency, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency, and the Georgia Department of Transportation. 

Gwinnett’s school system keeps in touch with the county government, police, first responders and electrical power companies. 

Gwinnett officials also said its transportation team drives some of its roads to determine if it’s safe for school buses.

Most systems also usually have people on the ground checking out road conditions. Top staff from each district puts together their best local reports with those from state emergency services and the national reports to make the best call possible. Sometimes that decision is not made until the early morning hours.

The final call comes from the superintendent. That’s why they make the big bucks.

How the decision is made:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters Marlon A. Walker, Eric Stirgus, and Maureen Downey contributed to this article. 

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