Schools found out about snow the morning of

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By Damon Lawrence

Tuesday’s snowy weather caught Roane County school officials off guard.

“We checked the forecast the night before and they were calling for nothing,” Director of Schools Gary Aytes said. “I actually checked it at 6:30 or 7 that morning, and they were still calling for nothing.”

Things changed just after 8 a.m.

“The National Weather Service contacted us about 8:15 and told us this mess was coming in,” Aytes said.

Aytes said that alert from the weather service was a big help.

“We were very fortunate,” he said. “We called it off early, which I think created some concern, but it turned out to be a good decision. We got everybody home safe and the buses all back with no problems.”

School let out at 10 a.m.

Aytes said that was the earliest the system could do it under the circumstances.

“We released at 10, so that gave us from 8:30 to 10 to prepare and 10 to 11:30 to get it done,” he said. “The National Weather Service told us that would be safe.”

Aytes said it takes the school system about 90 minutes to get all the bus drivers together and notify parents. He said it takes a similar stretch to deliver the students and get the buses back.

“We knew we had about three hours,” he said.

Aytes said the school system didn’t have any buses or students stranded because of the bad weather.

“We had one student on a bus that the mother wasn’t home,” he said. “The bus driver brought the student back to school, and the mother was there.”

Tuesday still counts toward the school system’s snow days.

“We did not get half a day in, so we had to use a snow day,” Aytes said.