01/20/05 — Heat restored at Wayne schools; officials await next wintry blast

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Heat restored at Wayne schools; officials await next wintry blast

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on January 20, 2005 2:17 PM

Heat has been restored in all the county schools, but now students may be given Friday off if tonight's snow forecast comes true.

Eastern Wayne Elementary, Norwayne Middle and Northeast Elementary schools were without heat on Tuesday because of electrical problems. School Street School also was reported to have been without power. A power outage in the area Wednesday morning caused Northeast to again be without heat. Students were released midmorning to allow time for the heaters to run in the school.

When an unexpected snowfall hit the area Wednesday afternoon, the rest of the 31 public schools were dismissed 30 minutes early. This morning, they had a two-hour delay.

Weather forecasters are predicting one to two inches of snow in Wayne County tonight. It is too soon to announce whether school will be canceled on Friday, said Kristy Fair, public relations director for the school system.

"In as much advance time as possible, we will let parents know," she said this morning. "Conditions change and they can happen pretty quickly."

She said that any time there is a threat of winter weather, the school system's safety committee is activated. The committtee met Wednesday afternoon and members traveled the county by sections to assess the situation, paying particular attention to secondary roads and bridges, which may have more ice.

"They also look at the parking lots at sschool buildings and consider whether students can safely get into schools," she said. Members report their findings and make recommendations to the superintendent.

In Wednesday's case, she said, the northern end of Wayne County close to Johnston and Wilson counties had more icy road colnditions.

"We always err on the side of caution and decided to operate on a two-hour delay" today, Ms. Fair said. "Last night there was still some black ice in some sections of the county and we did not want to take any risks."

Fair said the decision was made at 10 p.m. Wednesday. In addition to making the announcement via radio and TV stations, she said the school system's recently-acquired automated emergency notification system has come in very handy.

"We strongly encourage parents to update their information," she said. "That way they can receive the alerts on their cell phones, e-mail and whatever forms of communication they prefer."

Ms. Fair said the safety committee planned to meet again this afternoon and depending on when and if the storm developed, hoped to make a decision about whether school would be held on Friday.