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Canceling classes is “hardest decision” for some Columbia school leaders

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

With winter weather in full swing, school leaders face tough decisions on whether to call off school.

"This is probably the most difficult thing we do," Adam Dube, head of school for Columbia Independent School, said about canceling classes. "We want to make sure that our families are safe, we want to make sure it's easy for people to get to school, we don't put anyone unnecessary at risk."

Columbia Independent School canceled classes Monday and decided to have a late start on Tuesday. Columbia Public Schools canceled classes on Monday and Tuesday.

By about 4 p.m. Tuesday two area districts had made decisions about Wednesday classes. Marshall Public Schools announced a two-hour delayed start and Morgan County R-2 said it would be closed Wednesday.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST CANCELLATIONS

Dube said the decision for the public schools and his school is different because public schools have several buildings and thousands of students.

"(Columbia Public Schools) has to clean off sidewalks, clean off parking lots, they've got to get kids in buses picking kids up from really all over the city and in the county," Dube said.

Columbia Independent School has 371 students in junior kindergarten through 12th grade, and does not run buses.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School in Columbia also had a delayed start Tuesday. The principal Elaine Hassemer echoed Dube, saying they don't have to worry about children waiting in the cold for the bus.

Hassemer said they don't have an exact deadline to make a decision about the next day's classes, but the school works with other schools, media outlets and Boone County EMS to make its decision.

Dube said when deciding to cancel classes, administrators look at the current conditions and what is forecast for the next morning.

"The idea is to get the information to families as soon as possible," Dube said. "Because we know for families it's a real burden to have to find child care for their kids that day, or if they have to stay home from work."

Both Our Lady of Lourdes and Columbia Independent School leave it up to parents to make the final decision about whether to hit the road. Neither school penalizes students for missing classes if parents believe it is unsafe to make it to class.

Dube said the biggest challenges are making sure the school has teachers or substitutes during winter weather and simply making the right decision.

"There are families who are probably thinking 'why didn't the school canceled today, the roads were bad' ... there were families thinking 'why was there a late start, the roads were fine,'" Dube said. "Accepting the fact that there's no way you can make a decision that's going to please everybody is probably the most important part and the hardest part."

ABC17 News reached out to Columbia Public Schools about the district's policies on cancellations and what they are expecting for Wednesday and has not received a response.

Boone / Columbia / Columbia Public Schools / Columbia Video / News / Top Stories / Video / Winter Weather

Connor Hirsch

Connor Hirsch reports for the weekday early evening shows, as well as Saturday nights.

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