Closing confusion in Warwick prompts parent frustration

West Bay

WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — In the end, Warwick schools were closed Tuesday. But the city’s first snow day of the season didn’t exactly go off without a hitch, causing some confusion for parents.

The first glitch happened Monday night after the district sent out mixed messages to parents. Two different messages – posted 15 minutes apart -were up simultaneously on the Warwick Public Schools Facebook page: one canceling school and the other announcing a two-hour delay.

Even an email that went out to parents caused confusion, with the subject line canceling school, but the email’s body announcing a two-hour delay.

The school district later clarified that a two-hour delay was indeed in effect. However, it turned out it wasn’t the final word after all.

An Apple iPhone screengrab of two conflicting Facebook messages posted minutes apart by the Warwick (R.I.) Public Schools account on December 2, 2019, before the district ended up canceling school on the morning of December 3. (Photo shared with by a viewer)

Around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning – a little more than an hour before high school students were set to report – the district sent out yet another message:

“At this time we are now moving forward to canceling all Warwick Schools today, December 3, 2019, due to the continuous snow conditions,” the email read. “Our apologies for any confusion last night. We do our best to predict what is best for the safety of our staff and students.”

The email was unsigned.

While some online commenters expressed their frustration and confusion in the Facebook posting, parents Eyewitness News talked to Tuesday morning were more relaxed about it.

The decision over closing school has been a headache in the state for years.

One commenter on the WPRI 12 Facebook page said she believed the confusion stemmed from a “game-changing” incident in 2007 – known as the “December Debacle” – when scores of students were stuck on school buses during a snowstorm and didn’t get home for hours.

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