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March 7, May 26 KCSD weather ‘make-up days’

Posted: January 30, 2014 4:37 p.m.
Updated: January 31, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Due to forecasted winter storms, Kershaw County School District (KCSD) schools and offices were closed on Tuesday and Wednesday and all after school extracurricular activities, meetings and programs originally scheduled for those days were cancelled.

KCSD schools opened on a two-hour delay on Thursday, with all staff, excluding administrators and maintenance employees, reporting to work two hours later than normal. According to KCSD Communications Director Mary Anne Byrd, administrators and maintenance staff used the two hour allotment to ensure the school facilities were safe for students and staff. "The safety of our students and our staff is our first priority," Byrd said.

Byrd explained that the decision to cancel school is a "complex process" involving the efforts of many people. Byrd stated that when a winter weather alert is issued, members of "our own staff, including (KCSD Superintendent) Dr. Morgan will go out and drive the roads to evaluate parts of the county" in an effort to determine the driving condition of the roads.

According to Byrd, KCSD works with "county emergency preparedness (officials) and gets updates from the National Weather Service, (KCSD also) talks to (Kershaw County Emergency Manager) Gene Faulkenberry frequently, works with dispatch, checks with overnight deputies … it’s a continual and ongoing process as soon as we know that storm weather is approaching," she said.

KCSD also communicates with other nearby school districts in an effort to determine what they will do regarding inclement weather, Byrd said. She said that KCSD keeps in mind that not all districts should make the same decisions. "Our district covers a lot more land mass than others and ours is more rural," she stated.

Making the call of whether or not to close school because of weather is "a very comprehensive process," Byrd explained, and "it’s ultimately Dr. Morgan’s call, but he gets a lot of input from many sources."

Once the decision has been made to cancel or delay school, a message is broadcast via "schoolMessenger," Byrd said. She noted that schoolMessenger is an automated messaging system that sends phone calls and emails out to all students, staff and families. "We also use local media like the television news and social media like Facebook and Twitter" to spread the news, Byrd stated. "And of course (news of closings or delays) would be on the school website," she added.

Byrd said the district has had good overall responses from the weather closings. "We erred on the side of safety," she stated regarding Tuesday’s school closings. "We had conflicting information on when the storms would begin."

As of press time Thursday, KCSD was still monitoring weather conditions for Friday. Byrd encouraged parents to check the website for updates.

Byrd stated that March 7 and May 26 will serve as designated make up days and were built into the school calendar to be used as such.

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