RICHMOND, R.I. (WPRI) — While a number of local school districts issued early dismissals on Friday, a Richmond woman is questioning why students there weren’t let out early amid the heavy rain and strong winds.
Suzette Ward said she and her husband got on the road during the height of the storm after she received a call from Richmond Elementary School saying she had to pick up her granddaughter because the roads were impassable for buses due to fallen trees and power lines.
“Extremely dangerous,” she said. “We were in a truck and it was just all over the road.”
After being detoured by several road closures, the couple picked up their grandchild but said she was crying and hysterical after they witnessed a big oak tree come down.
“Right in front of us,” Ward recalled. “I sat down Saturday and said, ‘you know, that isn’t right. That endangered our kids.'”
Ward said she believes Richmond Elementary should have dismissed students early so they could get home and off the roads.
“By the time 4:30 came around, trees, lines were down, power was off,” she said. “To me that really, that was reckless. Reckless by the administration not to call it and do an early dismissal by noontime.”
Chariho Superintendent Barry Ricci on Monday said an early dismissal crossed his mind, but he was afraid children might get sent home without parental supervision and thought it would be safer to keep them inside the school buildings.
According to Ricci, the district has criteria for calling an early dismissal and ensuring students are supervised in getting home, but he said it’s only used in rare circumstances and Friday’s storm did not meet the criteria.
“There was plenty of time for the parents or guardians to get back to the house if they weren’t there,” Ward added.
Ricci also noted that the administration stayed at the school Friday to make sure every student was picked up, and they had a backup van in case guardians were unable to get there.