School districts discuss factors that go into decision making for weather-related early dismissals or closures

(WLBT)
Published: Nov. 29, 2022 at 7:49 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Schools can’t wait for the weather to go sideways before they start thinking about when and where students will be when the worst of the weather hits their area. So, most districts consult with their local emergency management directors to get the 411. Here’s what we learned about the factors they’re taking into consideration.

Madison County Schools made the call to dismiss early.

“It’s a tricky situation because no one wants to miss a day of school and then have to make it up over the holidays,” noted Gene Wright, Madison County Schools Director of Communications. “So, if we can have some learning taking place in those school buildings for as long as we can, that’s what we aim to do. But again, it’s on balance with making sure that we can get students home before inclement weather hits.”

If students are in class for a 60% percent day, they don’t have to worry with one of those make-up days. A lot of coordination comes into play when the trigger is pulled to let out early.

“Staggered times play into transportation because we have buses that run elementary routes, then middle school routes, then high school routes,” added Wright. “So, it’s not specific buses for specific schools. Those drivers are running multiple routes. And so that’s why you see that staggered timeframe so that everybody can get home.”

Clinton also made the call after the first bell had rung.

“We try to send out any kind of update with as much notice as possible today was kind of cutting it close,” said Robert Chapman, Clinton Public School District Public Information Officer. “But we expect we moved our traditional early release times so that parents could make any kind of change in their schedule, to then come and get their student.”

But these days, it’s easier to get the word out.

“They’ll get an email,” Chapman said of parents. “They’ll get a text message. They’ll see it on Twitter. They will also see it on the website.”

The Vicksburg-Warren School District erred on the side of caution and closed for the day. Warren County Emergency Management Director John Elfer says he helps pass along the latest information while those decisions are being made, but it’s ultimately a decision made by the district. He adds that it is not a decision made lightly.

“These conversations go on many times, every half hour, hourly, or certainly several times during the day,” said Elfer. “Knowing that those timelines will probably change, speed up, slow down, you know, we don’t have a crystal ball.”

Here is the full list of schools that closed or dismissed early Tuesday.

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