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Shelby County Schools closes Tuesday, reflecting needs of suburban, rural students

Schools in Shelby County, Nashville, and several other Tennessee districts will remain closed for a second day Tuesday after a winter storm that passed through the region on Sunday and Monday.

Schools in state-run Achievement School District and Catholic schools in Memphis are also closed Tuesday. The ACT has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 6. The district’s meetings regarding proposed rezoning plans have also been rescheduled. Administrative staff will report to work at 10 a.m.

Monday’s announcement reflected the newly-merged, 140,000-student Shelby County district’s efforts to serve urban, suburban, and rural students from legacy Memphis City and legacy Shelby County schools:

All schools will be closed Tuesday, March 4, 2014 due to inclement weather. While many city roads are clear, many rural areas of our district are still experiencing dangerous road conditions.

Tuesday will be Shelby County’s fourth day off due to inclement weather this year. The district’s inclement weather closings – and decisions to not close school when weather is iffy – have created a virtual blizzard of comments on social media sites. More than 125 people commented on the district’s Facebook post announcing plans to close school on Monday.

Earlier this winter, there were more than 400 comments on the district’s plans to keep school open despite wintry weather:

Post by Shelby County Schools.Many of the commenters were rural and suburban Shelby County citizens who criticized the district for keeping schools open. “Please remember Collierville is still part of Shelby County School system and we had snow covered roads this morning and had to get out and take our kids to school in it. I dint like driving in it,” read one post. “SCS you need to go back to school because this is a VERY ignorant and uneducated decision to keep these schools open!!! SHAME ON YOU SCS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” read another.

On Sunday, Commercial Appeal reporter Zach McMillian, who wrote extensively about the school system merger and subsequent demerger, reminded his followers on social media about how plans for six brand-new school systems in Memphis’s suburbs will affect how snow announcements look next year:

On Monday afternoon, Shelby County school board members Kevin Woods and David Reaves were among the local officials discussing the district’s plans for Tuesday on social media:

@gochristhomas @HowellMarketing I’m sure Superintendent Hopson and @SCSK12Unified will make right call. Hopefully sooner than later.

— KevinWoods (@KevinWoods) March 3, 2014

The author of another social media account that was created in February was critical of Shelby County’s decision to keep schools open despite precipitation on a cold day in February. But today the account’s output was short and simple:

Yes.

— Is SCS closed yet? (@PlzSCS) March 3, 2014

So a snow day is not always just about weather: While Shelby County’s announcement today highlighted the district’s awareness of students outside the city center, in New York, new mayor Bill DeBlasio has kept schools open on a handful of snowy days, telling parents the decision to keep students home from schools is in their hands. Here’s Chalkbeat NY’s close-read of that snow day policy.

A Shelby County snow day in early January spurred a coat drive aimed at providing many of the district’s poverty-stricken students with winter-appropriate garb, as local residents were moved by reports that many students didn’t have proper attire to stand out in the cold weather.

Research shows that many parents keep their children home during inclement weather regardless of whether school is officially open or not.

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