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New winter protocol for Columbia Public Schools

This year officials at Columbia Public Schools will be able to call a late start for classes because of winter conditions.

If a late start is called, all elementary, middle and high schools will begin classes two hours after their normal start time. But they will be dismissed at the usual time.

CPS says one reason it decided to add the option of late starts is because the schools have had to add additional days at the end of the school year the last few years.

Michelle Baumstark, Columbia Public Schools: “All school districts across Missouri are required by law to build in six snow days into their school calendars. And the last several years it just seems like we’ve hit a streak where we’ve used more than six days.”

CPS says the two hour late starts will give snow removal crews more time to clear the roads to make it safer for students.

Many factors go into determining if a snow day or late start should be called. CPS says some of those include snow fall amounts, ice, temperature, wind chill, the time of day it snows, and weather forecasts.

Greg Caine, the principal of Jefferson Middle School, says adding late starts will help teachers stay on the set calendar schedule and keep students focused on learning by not having as many breaks.

Greg Caine, Jefferson Middle School Principal: “There’s been several times where there’s been a day where I felt we could have had school if we’d been able to wait a couple hours just cause of the cold or something of that nature. Or maybe it’s like okay well they just had so many areas they had to clear that if they had a couple hours, maybe they would have been able to get those cleared.”

Although some think late starts are a great idea, some parents say they’re not so sure.

Tammy Kelliehan, Benton Elementary PTA: “I do prefer if it is a snow day to leave it it as a snow day, and then we work from there. Late start means we do have to now–is there going to be bussing? Are we going to have to figure out how to get there? Is there going to be more traffic around the school? What is all that going to entail?”

CPS says it has also tried early dismissal in the past, but it created problems with trying to send students home without parents being there.

If a late start or snow day is going to be called, CPS will let all parents and faculty know by 6:00 of that morning at the very latest.

You can find school closings and delays here.

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