Parents were shocked Monday after Fayette County Public Schools and several other districts in the area canceled classes because of slick roads.
Mary Wright, chief operating officer for Fayette County Public Schools, said officials waited until the last minute to make the decision to cancel classes.
"It didn't start snowing until a little bit after 3," Wright said. "Things were very, very slick, and we didn't know how long it was going to continue to snow."
The announcement came about 5 a.m. Monday; buses would have been on the road by 6 a.m. Fayette was one of several districts, including Madison and Jessamine counties, to close Monday; other districts delayed the start of school.
Although bus travel appeared hazardous in some locations earlier in the day, some parents and their children ventured to Lexington from surrounding counties for fun on Monday afternoon as temperatures climbed into the high 30s.
Camden Reed, 12, was able to play at GattiTown on Nicholasville Road because there were no classes at West Jessamine Middle School.
"We shouldn't have had it," Reed said of the snow day. "The roads looked fine."
Reed's grandmother LaVerne Brumley of Lawrenceburg is a former school district employee in Anderson County. Brumley said she understands how difficult snow-day decisions are for school officials.
"We want to have the children safe," Brumley said.
In making decisions about closing, Fayette County confers often with the National Weather Service, Wright said.
The district also sent people out Monday to check roads and watched local television weather reports. She said the weather service predicted one-half to three-quarters of an inch through 9 a.m. She noted that weather patterns sometimes shift.
"Nobody has a crystal ball," Wright said.
She said the district considered but rejected a two-hour delay because of the uncertainty.
Fayette County Public Schools can use alternate bus routes, moving stops to main roads.
But Wright said even Man o' War Boulevard "was still pretty slippery" Monday morning, and alternate routes can become confusing if parents forget where the routes are.
Wright said a half-inch of snow alone probably would not have been enough for officials to cancel school.
But there was a light glaze over roads Monday morning, combined with snow and ice from last week that lingered because of cold temperatures during the weekend, Wright said.
Sam Williams, the city's director of streets, roads and forestry, agreed.
"There are streets that still have a residual amount of snow from the last event because of the temperatures," Williams said Monday afternoon.
He said salt was still on some roads from last week, and on-call crews arrived to help clear streets about 4:30 a.m. Monday.
About a third of the city's streets are considered priority roads in the snow plan, Williams said. Crews do not clear every city street, he said.
Wright said she realized the decision to close Fayette County schools would not make everyone happy.
"We always make our decision based on what we feel is safe for the students," Wright said. "That's always the driving decision maker."
GattiTown swarmed with children and parents at lunchtime Monday.
Kari Thacker, a teacher in Clark County who lives in Madison County, said she was surprised Clark and Madison counties had canceled classes.
"And I was really shocked when I saw Fayette," she said.
Thacker said the snow "must have fallen at the perfect time."
Jacqui Denegri played air hockey with her daughter Sarianna, 6, a first-grader at Glendover Elementary School. Denegri turned on her television Monday morning to check the temperature and was stunned when she saw Fayette County had canceled school.
"I'm confused," Denegri said. "It wasn't even that much snow."
Marya Hudson was on the job Monday while her children, both Leestown Middle School students, stayed home. Hudson said she grew up in Wisconsin and thinks Kentucky school districts cancel school too often.
"I remember walking to school in snow knee-high," Hudson said.
She questioned why some of the secondary roads in Fayette County remained slick and covered with ice and snow from last week's storm. Hudson suggested school and city officials meet about road conditions.
"It's definitely ridiculous how many snow days they've had," Hudson said.
Fayette County schools have missed seven days because of snow and ice, pushing the last day of classes to June 3. Madison and Jessamine county schools have missed eight days.