Single school district closes due to weather

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COLUMBIA - Most local schools decided to stay open despite extremely low temperatures, but the Sturgeon R-V School District was an exception.

There is not a printed list on what exact things qualify for a school cancelation, but the Sturgeon district superintendent said Thursday's closure was needed. 

Superintendent Shawn Schultz said he's been eyeing the temperature for days. 

"I was pretty alarmed at temperatures during pick up time and kids walking to school so that is what i made my decision off of, I really didn't want to have kids standing out waiting for the bus when it was zeros degrees as well as walking to school," Schultz said. 

There is not a specific temperature threshold for schools either, Schultz said.

"It's really situational," he said. "Today was just really primarily, really the dangerously cold temperatures forecasted, the regular temperatures, and the windshields as well."

Schultz' was also worried whether students would be dressed for the extreme weather.

"As you know probably, that sometimes kids don't dress appropriately for the weather," he said.

Columbia Public Schools said it only cancels when roads are unsafe.

Spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said the district reviewed weather conditions and determined it to be safe for children and staff. 

"We have school in session today and transportation this morning was running smoothly – no issues related to cold temperatures.  For today, there were no road or transportation issues (i.e. snow or ice) and we reviewed the temp and wind chill factors.  Conditions were such that it was possible to get students to school safely," Baumstark said.   

Baumstark said if weather conditions get serious there are three options: a two-hour delay at the beginning of school, early dismissal or school cancelation. 

"Because the safety and well-being of our students and employees is our top priority, school will be cancelled or a two-hour delayed start implemented only after roads have been tested and weather conditions are analyzed, " she said. 

She said the two-hour delay gives road crews to clear roads before school, so the children can still learn.

"A two-hour delayed start as an option allows students to continue to have continuity of instruction, consistency with nutrition, and the ability to end the school year before summer school begins.  Delaying the start of the school day usually means there will be some degree of improvement in weather conditions during that time.," Baumstark said.

Although Sturgeon the only local district to cancel, Schultz said he doesn't regret his decision.

"I'm going to make a mistake or make an error, I sure always want to be on the safe side, an error on the side of kids safety and making sure that first and for most they're safe," he said.

The Sturgeon district will make up the day later in the year.