Outcry Follows After WCPSS Refused to Close Schools During Severe Floods


On Monday morning, Wake County Public School students woke up to a National Weather Service Flash Flood Warning claiming that “This is a dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order,” despite Wake County Schools returning to class as normal in mere hours.

Throughout the morning, there were reports of fallen trees and strong wind gusts which caused power outages across the county. Due to the poor weather conditions, most classes at Enloe were missing approximately half of their students and many teachers were not present, calling for an announcement to be made that asked for teachers on their planning periods to cover classes without teachers. Parts of the school were out of power momentarily in the morning, with the East Building having no electricity for the longest. Multiple students posted photos of Ms. Rowland showing instructions to students by flashlight.

All morning, WCPSS was met with public outcry on social media. Students and parents voiced their concern for the safety of students and teachers traveling to school in such conditions as well as the confusion of whether to follow the advice of the National Weather Service or WCPSS. One Enloe senior tweeted, “Driving to school during a global pandemic in resurgence through flood waters at 6 am. @WCPSS I just want to sit down and talk.” One junior that drove herself to school exclaimed, “There were many times this morning when I thought I was going to have to pull over because of how bad the flooding was. The drive was especially bad because I live 30-40 minutes away from school, as many students do who attend Magnet schools, which is something WCPSS needs to take in consideration when making these decisions. As a new driver, it was incredibly scary and unsafe to drive in these conditions.”

In response to this outcry, WCPSS spokeswoman Lisa Luten told WRAL, “The wind advisory last night did not warrant a school closure. A delay would not have made the situation safer. Remember that our (bus) routes start at 5:30 am, so the first weather advisory this morning came after most buses had started routes.” Despite this, Chapel Hill-Carrboro and Franklin counties decided to close school just before 6:30 am.

Students were also in disarray later in the school day as snow began to fall. Wake County students took to social media again to demand an early release due to the snowfall but were met again with WCPSS’s silence on social media, which has now reached three days. Many students are highlighting the contrast between the decision to have a complete school day with these conditions, while WCPSS closed virtual school last year for a manageable amount of snow.

In a Sunday statement about the wide array of weather that would be coming on Monday, Governor Roy Cooper said, “It’s important to stay informed of changing weather conditions and to have a way to receive weather alerts. A little preparation before severe or winter weather arrives can help avoid inconveniences and emergencies later.”

WCPSS has announced a two-hour delay for Tuesday morning (1/4/22), as black ice (accumulated water from previous storms freezing) is expected to form on roads overnight. As soon as this news broke, Wake students took to Instagram and Twitter to announce how relieved they were that WCPSS was communicating again.