Record low temperatures, paired with extremely dangerous and life-threatening wind chill factors, led to the closing of area schools this past Monday.
As with most schools across the state, superintendents at Nevada and Colo-Nesco made the decision to cancel classes for Monday.
“We have not closed because of cold temperatures while I have been at Colo-Nesco,” Dr. Jim Verlengia said. “However, as superintendent at Lewis Central Community Schools, we had one day when we closed because of the wind chill.”
Verlengia didn’t remember the exact date when he had to close at Lewis Central, but he said closing at Colo-Nesco Monday, as in all closings the school makes, was based on student and staff safety. “We have a number of students living in the country who could be exposed to the elements, along with students who walk to school or city bus stops. Considering the factors, we decided to sacrifice a day for safety. We will always make that choice,” he said. Monday was the first missed day this year for Colo-Nesco.
At Nevada, Monday was the second missed school day of the year.
Nevada’s planned winter break was unexpectedly lengthened by two days when the district closed the Friday prior to the start of the break and then again this past Monday. Steve Gray, who is new to the superintendent position this year, said, “Student safety will always be my number-one priority and I will always err on that side when making weather-related decisions.”
Gray said on the Friday before break, Dec. 20, he made the decision to close at about 5:30 a.m. “When I drove at 4:30 a.m., conditions were very icy with continuing drizzle. The initial freezing rain advisory (from the National Weather Service) that was to expire at 6 a.m. was also extended until noon. Ice is very unpredictable, as one or two degrees in temperature either way can make a big difference.”
Gray said he felt he was right to cancel, when at 10:30 a.m. that day, conditions were still “very slick” due to the on again-off again drizzle.
Over this past weekend, Gray sent a districtwide message to parents about how he would use a wind chill chart to guide his decision about whether there would be school on Monday. In that message, he noted that regardless of his decision, the school district would respect the attendance decision of parents where safety is concerned.
Gray said he had cancelled school one time previously as a superintendent in another district due to extreme wind chill; and he was also forced once time to cancel when buses wouldn’t start because of the cold. “We did not (at his previous school district) have a garage for our buses. I do not anticipate those bus issues at Nevada, as we do have an indoor facility for our buses.”
Gray said that Nevada’s two make-up days are scheduled to be added at the end of the school year, which means students will now attend school June 2 and 3.
Verlengia said he will meet with the Colo-Nesco administrative team to determine which of the following days – Feb. 17, April 4 or April 17 – will be used to make up the one day missed. These are three “no-school” days that can be used for makeups before the district would start to tack on days at the end of the school year.