By Jason Chlapek
All six Polk County school districts – Big Sandy, Corrigan-Camden, Goodrich, Leggett, Livingston and Onalaska – were closed Monday because of winter weather.
Much of the county received snow or sleet Sunday afternoon and evening, which prompted school district superintendents to make decisions to close on Monday. According to C-CISD superintendent Richard Cooper, it was better to be safe than sorry.
“In situations like this, I like to err on the side of caution,” Cooper said. “It only takes one bridge with ice on it to cause problems for a bus. It’s not US 59, it’s our county roads and farm-to-market roads.”
Each school district decided by Sunday evening to cancel school on Monday. One district, Leggett, was anticipating a late start, but decided against it once it was determined that road conditions were unsafe.
“We decided at 6 p.m. Sunday to not have school,” Cooper said. “I reside on the south end of our district in Moscow and we were getting sleet and snow at that point. My transportation director drove the roads in our district and noted more snow and sleet on the north and west sides of our district.”
Cooper, who is in his second year as superintendent of C-CISD, said this was the first time his district had to cancel school because of winter weather. In his previous stop at Garrison, he had to cancel for winter weather once.
“I’ve been (at C-CISD) for two years, but the last time we had to cancel was before I got here,” Cooper said. “We had some sleet and ice when I first got to Garrison in January 2016.”
All six districts returned to school on Tuesday. Cooper said his district started two hours late.
“We started two hours later because roads were still wet,” he said. “It was 26 degrees Monday night so we wanted to see a little more traffic on the roads before we put buses on them. We had no incidents so it worked.”
Cooper also said that although much of the snow was melted Sunday night, the roads were wet and perfect for ice formation with a freeze. He ultimately decided to play it safe.
“It warmed up enough on Monday that melted it, but all bridges were wet by Sunday night and they were frozen by Monday morning,” Cooper said. “You have to put the safety of students, parents and staff first when making those decisions.”