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Ahead Of Forecast Ice Storm, Stalwart Kansas City, Kansas, Schools Stay Open

Frank Morris
KCUR 89.3
Weird weather has kept many metro area school districts closed this week. Sleet fell on parts of the metro Tuesday morning. More precipitation is expected Wednesday evening into Thursday.

Many local schools remained closed Wednesday in anticipation of an ice storm that could dump up to an inch of snow and sleet on the metro by Thursday afternoon.

But not Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools.

Chief of Public Affairs David Smith says the district asks two questions when inclement weather is forecasted: can we get students to school safely, and can we get them home safely?

“The answer to both questions has to be yes,” Smith says.

Roads weren’t slick in Wyandotte County Wednesday morning and the National Weather Service isn’t predicting precipitation until after sunset. So the district had kids come to school today. Smith says the district tries to open whenever it’s safe to do so because snow days create logistical challenges for parents without childcare.

To the south, road conditions weren’t as favorable as they were in Wyandotte County, prompting many Johnson County districts to close Wednesday. The Shawnee Mission School District, which originally tweeted it would be open Wednesday, reversed course because of the extreme cold. On the Missouri side, a planned field trip for Kansas City Public Schools students to see “Black Panther” had to be postponed after classes were cancelled for the day.

Social media has changed how districts communicate inclement weather closures with the public. Earlier this week, Lee’s Summit Superintendent Dennis Carpenter tweeted he’d been watching the weather since 4 a.m. when he made the decision to cancel classes Tuesday.

“This is a glimpse into the life of a superintendent on a day in which there’s an ice storm warning,” Carpenter said in a short video uploaded to Twitter.

At noon on Wednesday, Smith says students were already tweeting to ask if school will be closed Thursday. A winter weather advisory for Northeast Kansas and Northwest Missouri warns that snow and ice accumulations are likely to result in poor road conditions during the Thursday morning commute.

Smith says district officials are paying close attention to forecasts but haven't made a decision about Thursday yet.

Elle Moxley covers education for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.

Elle Moxley covered education for KCUR.
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