Public schools to close again Wednesday

Published 10:40 pm Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The freezing temperatures Tuesday night were the deciding factor for Suffolk Public Schools to decide to shut down schools again on Wednesday.

The announcement makes the fifth day in a row that public schools in the city have closed, but the decision was made based on the condition of roads and sidewalks in the city, spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw said.

“We have people that travel the roads in all sections of the city to report what the conditions are,” said Bradshaw, Suffolk Public Schools public information officer. “Today’s decision to close is due to the freezing temperatures overnight. We are hoping another day of melting will help, but we want to put student safety first.”

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Back roads still have some slush, and the same can be said for Suffolk’s school campuses. Some school lots have been plowed, while others have not, Bradshaw said.

“We do want to encourage parents to understand. There are still a lot of neighborhoods that are still slushy, and every child that gets on our school bus is our child. We have to make that decision for 14,000 children, and all of them are equally important,” Bradshaw said.

The school system hires contractors to plow the grounds at schools, but they also rely on the custodians at the schools to help clear sidewalks, Bradshaw said. Custodians are part of the essential personnel that are required to report to work while the schools are closed.

With the number of missed days, there will be make-up days and possible changes to the mid-term exam days as well. Changes will be discussed at the school board meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy also announced it would close on Wednesday, citing the overnight freezing temperatures.

Suffolk Christian Academy on Tuesday announced plans to open Wednesday, but the school will be on a two-hour delay. Suffolk Christian’s headmaster, Tamra VanDorn, said the delay is due to the icy road conditions, but that parents should use their best judgment regarding the conditions of their roadways for keeping their children safe, according to a Facebook post.