Citing the risk of winter weather and hazardous road conditions, public school officials announced today at noon that classes will be canceled on Thursday, the third day this week.
Thursday’s cancellation includes all public schools in Calhoun County as well as The Donoho School, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic School, Jacksonville Christian Academy and Faith Christian School.
Gadsden State Community College officials announced at about 3 p.m. today that classes will be cancelled. Representatives from Jacksonville State University also cancelled Thursday classes at around 5 p.m. today.
“The forecast from the National Weather Service indicates that travel will be hazardous,” said Mike Fincher, the Calhoun County school system’s director of safety. “The National Weather Service has our area under a winter storm warning at 6 a.m. when buses will still be traveling, and the governor still has Alabama under a state of emergency.”
Superintendents will meet again Thursday at 2 p.m. to determine whether they will open school Friday, Fincher said. He and Randy Reaves, the incoming director of safety for county schools, collected data from the Weather Service and shared it with superintendents during a midday conference call shortly before Wednesday's decision was made.
“There is an awful lot that goes into these decisions,” said Anniston City Schools Superintendent Joan Frazier.
Frazier said area superintendents communicate with each other and the Calhoun County Emergency Management Agency before they make such a decision.
On account of weather reports earlier in the week that sounded the alarm for winter weather, public school officials also called off classes for Tuesday and Wednesday. Snow did not fall and ice did not build up on most county roads during school hours on those days, but local school officials said they made the best decision possible.
They said ice and snow did coat communities in nearby counties and if the temperature had been just a few degrees cooler, local roads could have been dangerous.
“None of us are meteorologists, so we have to depend on the experts,” said Jacksonville Superintendent Jon Paul Campbell. “I think we’ve seen it’s not an exact science.”
The fact that bus routes will begin Thursday while the area is still under a winter weather watch was one of the main reasons classes were canceled.
Each superintendent determines whether his or her district will cancel classes, Fincher and Campbell said.
“We have to look very closely as to whether or not to open,” Campbell said. “We really deal with every situation on a case-by-case basis.”
Meanwhile the technology of tablet computers will prevent students from falling too far behind in their studies as they wait for classes to resume. In Jacksonville, some teachers assigned homework for students to do on their school-issued iPads .
“We have the tools to do that,” Campbell said. “I think a lot of teachers are seeing, oh my, we can do this and we continue having instruction even during the bad weather days.”
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.