By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News
HENRY COUNTY ? Two area school districts released students early on Thursday, Jan. 11, as temperatures dropped and freezing rain pelted the area.
New London Community School District was the first to make the decision to release students. ?Making the decision on weather (related dismissals) is not an easy decision,? said New London Superintendent Chad Whals. ?You have to look and see if we can beat the storm or if you can wait it out. Hopefully we made the right call today.?
New London released students at 11 a.m.
Winfield-Mt. Union Community School District soon followed, releasing students at noon. ?I made the decision about 10 a.m. to have a 1 p.m. dismissal. By 11 a.m. we had a very rapid change to freezing rain and bumped (dismissal) to noon,? said W-MU Superintendent Jeff Maeder.
Once the decision was made to move up the early out, district staff worked to make sure students had lunch. ?We started getting the bus kids, making sure they were fed first and ready before the busses arrived.?
Maeder praised his staff for their flexibility throughout the day. ?This was right at semester test time,? said Maeder. ?Our secondary building had some tests going on, but our staff was tremendously flexible with the change in dismissal time.?
Whals said he had met with the district?s transportation director and by 9 a.m. Whals had made the decision to release students early. When releasing students early, Whals said school districts also have to discuss whether or not they will serve lunch that day. ?If your (staff) has already prepped the food, do you throw it away, move up the serving time or save it for the next day??
However, that wasn?t a factor for New London. Since the decision was made early in the morning, Whals said he was able to talk with the food service director and decide not to serve lunch.
Both Mt. Pleasant and WACO community school districts decided to wait out the storm and have students complete the day.
John Henriksen, superintendent at Mt. Pleasant, said he met with the district?s transportation director this morning and they agreed the safest option was to stay put.
?We didn?t think there was any safety advantage to pull out of school and put the students back on the roads again in the midst of freezing rain.?
Henriksen said having the students finish the school day would allow road crews to treat the roads and give time for the salt to soak in. ?We hope conditions will be better at 3:30 p.m. than at 10:30 a.m.,? he added.
The district did cancel middle school basketball practice and the high school wrestling meet was postponed.
According to the WACO website, their evening activities were also canceled.