Harsh winter conditions have forced schools in Alexander and Pulaski Counties to close for multiple days this year. While snow days are generally allotted to each school, persistent extreme weather has caused many districts to surpass their original rations.
Currently, the Cairo School District has missed 11 days of school due to severe weather. The District quickly surpassed the five allotted days however, have been granted forgiveness by the State of Illinois for four of the days so far.
Superintendant Angie Evers explained that because Illinois as a whole has experience a rough winter, Act of God days, which are applied for by the district as a means of forgiveness, are being approved more liberally than usual.
“I’m quite certain that we’ll be granted the other days which are pending at this time,” said Evers. “We were scheduled to have Monday off for Casmir Pulaski so that didn’t effect us.”
The biggest concern for the school is the effects on I-SAT testing that is scheduled to begin this week. With the week before the tests shortened, preparation and scheduled curriculum are being squeezed into fewer hours.
“It’s a delicate balancing act,” said Evers. “I desperately want children in the classrooms but you have to consider keeping people safe when they’re trying to get to school. Mother Nature has really been working against us.”
At this time the last day of school for the district is planned for June 4.
“We’ve got our fingers crossed,” said Evers.
Pulaski County schools are in much of the same situation. Weather caused closures throughout the week for Meridian schools.
Elementary principal Brent Boren stated that at time of printing the district has been out of school 18 days due to winter weather.
“We’ve lost almost a full month of school,” said Boren. “It’s been detrimental in respect to the time we’ve had to prepare for state testing.”
Boren also spoke of the toll missed school days take on student’s retention and comprehension.
“When children miss school it takes them out of the rhythm of education and can often break any momentum they have going for them,” said Boren.
A major factor in determining whether schools remain in service are the road conditions. Administration agreed that student’s safety is the number one priority when it comes to deciding whether school will close.
“It’s most important to keep the children safe,” said Boren
Temperatures have began to rise across the region, giving many hope that the end of the brutal winter Illinois has experienced is in sight.
“We’re just going to keep plugging along and sooner or later it’s going to improve,” said Boren.
George Lamboley | The Cairo Citizen