Schools ready for bad weather

By OJ Stapleton - [email protected]

With students back in school and a chance of snow later in the week, the local school districts are well prepared for the possibility of inclement weather.

Both Russellville Independent superintendent Leon Smith and Logan County schools superintendent Paul Mullins are ready to monitor the situations and make the calls to close school if need be.

“It is that time of year again regarding inclement weather and school closing issues,” Smith said. “This is a stressful time for myself and (transportation director John) Myers as we try to monitor the weather and determine if it is safe to have school. Please know we try to err on the side of safety however, we also know there are days that we are clear in the city of Russellville and those traveling from outside the area may have to start a little earlier than normal to arrive at school on time. Mayor Mark Stratton and his crew work extremely hard and do a great job getting our main roads and side streets cleared for travel in the city of Russellville. Last year we made a few one hour delay and two hour delay calls. We received positive feedback from our staff, students and parents. We will continue to look at delays as an option for having or even dismissing school early if needed.”

Mullins said that on days when school may be affected by weather, he along with Transportation Director Chris Rippy, will be out on the roads to determine whether or not it is safe for students and staff.

“We also will have spotters out in every part of the county,” Mullins said. “They will to report to Chris Rippy and myself so that we have all the information we need about what is going on all over the county.”

Smith’s checklist for whether or not to close school include the following items:

• Weather forecasts from radio and television stations

• Time when snow, ice or freezing rain is expected to start and end

• Predicted amount of snow, ice or freezing rain accumulation

• Weather conditions expected after the snow, ice or freezing rain

• Assessments from multiple local, state and law enforcement agencies

• School district’s assessment of school parking lot safety and accessibility of buildings

• Anticipated impact on traffic

“While Mr. Myers and I will not please everyone, we do go through our checklist, communicate with other districts and the National Weather Service on a continuing basis when inclement weather is in the forecast,” Smith said.

If the weather becomes severe while students are in class, schools may also close.

“Every effort is made to keep students in school through regular dismissal; however, it may become necessary to dismiss students earlier than normal to ensure their safe transport,” Smith said. “School officials monitor weather conditions throughout the day in consultation with local weather officials, the Kentucky Department of Transportation, and various law enforcement officials. Parents should always be prepared for an early dismissal by having an identified procedure for their child to follow in these situations.”

Mullins said that whenever possible, he will make the call to cancel school the night before – but that may not always be the case.

“I know parents like to know ahead of time so that they can schedule a babysitter or make other arrangements,” Mullins said. “But sometimes the weather just comes in at a time when you’re not able to do that.”

In addition to snow and ice, extreme cold can also cause schools to close in some cases.

On particularly cold mornings school districts continuously monitor the National Weather Service and closely monitor the weather conditions. There are two possible scenarios that come from the National Weather Service: A Wind Chill Advisory and a Wind Chill Warning. The National Weather Service defines the two as the following:

• Wind Chill Advisory: Wind Chills between -10 and -24 degrees and at least a wind of 10 MPH or more.

• Wind Chill Warning: Wind Chills -25 degrees and below with at least a wind of 10 MPH or more.

When the National Weather Service issues a Wind Chill Warning for Russellville for the time the school day begins, Russellville Independent will make a decision to close schools.

“It is quite likely we will make this type of decision on the morning of the day in question as it is hard to predict what the wind chill will be the night before,” Smith said. “If there is a Wind Chill Advisory for Russellville, schools will likely be open unless there are operational problems with the bus fleet or mechanical problems in the school buildings. Buildings and the bus fleet are assessed in the morning prior to school by 6 a.m.”

Mullins said that the county district will also be taking the wind chill into account when deciding whether or not to have school.

“If you have a child waiting outside at a bus stop for a long time with a really low wind chill – that’s not something you want to take a chance on,” he said.

By OJ Stapleton

[email protected]

To contact OJ Stapleton, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.

To contact OJ Stapleton, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.

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