BY JUSTIN MINYARD
Clay County and West Point School District students will have today off as an icy forecast mandated school heads to make the decision to pull the plug and cancel classes for the day per the recommendation of the local Mississippi Emergency Management Agency branch.
Johnny Littlefield, Clay County-West Point Mississippi emergency management agency director, said the chilly weather was not readily deemed any concern until a conference call with the National Weather Service (NWS) at 10 a.m. Monday concluded otherwise.
“You can’t jump the gun and cause a lot of aggravation and get folks too excited until you know for sure,” Littlefield said. “ ... You can watch the radar on television ... but until you talk to the people who (forecast the weather) for a living, you don’t know.”
Littlefield said the language used in the conference call was a key indicator the inclement weather was more than likely going to hit the area. Littlefield said NWS officials told him “this is what (he) should expect.”
“As soon as we got through with that, I contacted all the schools and daycares and gave them the information,” Littlefield said. “I certainly wouldn’t say, ‘Cancel your classes tomorrow.’ I just give them the information and let them make decisions — as they should. ... We try to give everybody a heads up as much as we can ... “
West Point School District Assistant Superintendent Tim Fowler said he had made the ultimate decision to close down campuses within the district per Littlfield’s recommendation.
“We trust our local authorities,” Fowler said. “They monitor these situations very closely.”
Fowler said parents and guardians received a notification regarding school closures via the Alert Now system the district has instituted. The respective individuals received a phone call to the contact information provided to the WPSD, which informed them school had been canceled Tuesday.
The WPSD, Fowler said, also circulates notifications regarding school cancellations on local broadcasting outlets, too.
“It’s not very often that we dismiss because of weather,” Fowler said. “Most years we miss it.”
Fowler said resuming classes on Wednesday for the WPSD would be dependent on further information regarding the exit of the cold front.
Yandell Harris, Oak Hill Academy headmaster, said he had been in close contact with other local schools and the county Emergency Management Agency regarding the inclement weather.
“They told us ... there was a high probability of (icy weather),” Harris said. “ ... We go on their recommendation.”
Harris said after being notified of the forecasted weather conditions, and based off the EMA’s recommendation, he made the decision to close down OHA’s campus for the day.
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