Fog delays school
The National Weather Service released a dense fog advisory for Washington County on Tuesday, Dec. 3, which led to two-hour delays for many of the school districts in Washington County Wednesday morning.
Washington Community School District (WCSD) superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen said the safety of the students is the first thing he considers when making the decision to delay school.
“This morning was a pretty easy call to make,” Jorgensen said. “I live three-fourths of a mile from the highway. Usually, I can see the highway from my house. When I woke up this morning at 4:30 a.m., I went outside on my porch and couldn’t see the house across the street.”
Another concern Jorgensen had was the visibility of the district’s buses and the visibility for the individual drivers going to school.
“For example, this morning I feel like the fog made it difficult for visibility of the buses,” Jorgensen said. “I called and spoke to our transportation director and we made the decision about 5:15 a.m. We almost always try to make that call close to 5:30 a.m. because sport practices and lifting in the weight room begin about 6 a.m.”
Mid-Prairie Community School District and Keota Community School District superintendent Mark Schneider also said student safety and staff safety are the No. 1 concerns.
“I have grandchildren that attend the Mid-Prairie Community School District, and I want to make sure they’re safe, along with every student and staff member in the district,” Schneider said.
Schneider woke up at 4:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and was out driving roads in the Mid-Prairie School District. He said how heavy a fog will be is hard to predict, but this morning the decision to delay was easy.
By 5:45 a.m. Schneider was at home sending out a message to parents through school messenger about the delay. School messenger sends out text and email messages to parents in the district who have signed up for the service, Schneider said.
“Before school messenger we used to have a calling tree,” he said. “I would notify the radio stations, the TV stations, and put it on the school’s Web site. Now with technology, communicating a delay is a lot easier.”
The decision to delay school in the Keota School District is a little harder, Schneider said.
“I’m not out in Keota driving the roads, so I rely heavily on our transportation director, Tom Woltering, when making the decision,” Schneider said. “I called him and he told me the fog was really bad there, so we made the call together to delay Keota.”