School remains in session despite winter storm

Gracie Hammond

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The bike rack which is typically full houses only one on Jan. 11. Students either opted for rides or stayed home altogether to avoid the road and weather conditions.

As the local weather forecasts predicted, Newton and surrounding areas woke to freezing cold weather in the low twenties, iced over roads and 28 mile per hour wind. The Harvey County Dispatch reported over half a dozen slide-offs before 7 a.m.

Some districts closed schools in light of the weather and road conditions. Despite surrounding closings, the district chose to keep schools open.

To Superintendent Dr. Hamm safety is of the high concern.

“When considering those two factors we consider whether or not our buses can operate safely, whether sidewalks and parking lots are passable, and whether or not electricity and heat are available. Our staff in transportation and maintenance check roadways and sometimes confer with law enforcement. We also consider whether conditions are expected to improve throughout the day or worsen. I confer with the transportation director, maintenance director, and superintendents from our county. Ultimately, I am the one who decides.” Dr. Hamm said.

The district website outlines the determining factors in the decision to delay or close schools.

“Some criteria used in making the decision to cancel school: The safety and well-being of students and staff, severity of the weather (extreme cold, flooding, etc.), timing of weather (overnight, weekend, etc.) and the ability for buses and cars to travel safely.”

The district also cites reasons like parents having to make last minute arrangements for child care and students depending on school provided meals as reasons they aim to keep schools open and on time.

Though the district deemed the weather not hazardous enough to cancel or delay the day, some disagreed.

“Personally, I almost went into a ditch. I spun turning and almost hit a car at a stop sign. It was really scary and my anxiety levels were super high while driving,” senior Jasmine Powell said.

Many students expressed their feelings about the lack of cancellation or delay on social media. The hashtag #CancelNewton that had been used by students in the past when they believed the weather was too bad for class resurfaced on Twitter this morning.

Classrooms across the district saw low attendance and late students.

“There are legit eight people in my first hour,” sophomore Treasure Johnson said in a tweet.

The office made an announcement during the beginning of first hour letting teachers know that many students would be coming in tardy due to weather and teachers should not count them as tardy.