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Sunday, May 29, 2016

Closing schools due to bad weather: What factors are considered?

Friday, February 14, 2003

Dr. Thomas Rohr estimates it has been two or three years since schools were closed in anticipation of a winter storm. This morning, many schools in our area were closed before the first raindrop or snowflake fell.

The reason was a massive area of precipitation moving north from Texas. In Illinois and Indiana, that precipitation was expected to meet below-freezing air. So, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for Clay County.

Most of the precipitation was expected to fall as rain south of I-70 while the northern half of the county was expected to receive as much as 1/4-inch of ice, possibly causing downed tree limbs and power lines.

Portions of Indiana north of Clay County were expected to receive even more ice and snow today.

On a typical stormy, wintry day, when the Clay County has received snow or ice overnight, Rohr leaves his Parke County home at 4:30 a.m. and drives the roads in the northern part of Clay County while Transportation Director Frank Misner drives roads known to be especially troublesome for school buses.

At 6 a.m. Rohr and Misner meet to compare notes and decide whether or not to cancel school. If school is canceled, calls are made to TV and radio stations, so parents can make other plans for the care of their children.

But, what about today, when so many superintendents and private school officials decided to cancel classes on the basis of the weather forecast?

"It depends on how serious a threat the TV news media feel the weather is," Rohr said this morning. "We're really at the mercy of the news media. They are reporting (the storm) will result in very serious driving conditions when it hits. Our primary concern is that no child is injured."

Rohr said children could have probably been safely bused to school this morning, but transportation this afternoon may be very difficult.

Vigo County and Greencastle were two of several school systems and private schools to cancel classes today.

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