Schools to remain closed Thursday (updated)

Published 11:56 am Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Chilton County schools will be closed Thursday, Jan. 30, Chilton County Schools Superintendent Dave Hayden announced Wednesday morning, due to ongoing winter weather issues including icy roads and freezing temperatures.

Chilton Christian Academy and Jefferson State Community College Chilton-Clanton Campus will be closed Thursday as well.

Hayden said plans for schools on Friday will be announced Thursday.

No students or teachers were stranded at schools in Chilton County overnight Tuesday, Hayden said.

“We got out just in time,” Hayden said. “We were lucky. This was sudden and hard.”

Hayden said he is unsure how the missed school days will be addressed.

The Chilton County schools’ calendar contains one weather day in February, but otherwise, schools would have to make up missed days if those days are not approved to be considered “forgiven.”

Hayden said Alabama Schools Superintendent Tommy Bice would have to approve for the missed days to be forgiven.

“If the governor declares a state of emergency, which he has, I can petition the state superintendent to have those days forgiven,” Hayden said. “If those days aren’t forgiven, we’ll just have to make them up.”

On Tuesday, all students riding school buses and all bus drives made it to their homes safely, Chilton County Schools Transportation Supervisor Jason Griffin said Wednesday.

“We were very chaotic yesterday morning,” Griffin said. “We got all students delivered and all bus drivers home safely.”

Griffin said hundreds of students were transported on 98 routes ran Tuesday, and all routes were completed before county roads were deemed impassable.

Not long after buses had delivered students to their respective schools Tuesday morning, school officials determined early dismissal at 10 a.m. was necessary.

Buses started their pick-up routes close to 9 a.m. and completed them in about two and a half hours, Griffin said.

“Without my shop staff and the bus drivers, we couldn’t do it,” Griffin said. “I can’t say enough about them. Without them, it couldn’t have been done.”

Griffin said if the decision to dismiss schools had been delayed any longer, buses might not have been able to complete their routes.

“We were able to mobilize the bus drivers and the buses and get them rolling in less than an hour,” Griffin said. “That was pretty impressive. When I got home yesterday and realized there were students left at schools in Jefferson and Shelby County, I was shocked. That didn’t happen to us.”

Griffin also commended parents and guardians for their help and patience in getting students home safely.

“They worked well with us, too,” Griffin said. “They were there when they needed to be there, and they were very patient. It was a team effort for sure.”

All schools were closed Wednesday. Schools dismissed between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. Tuesday after weather reports indicated conditions would worsen throughout the day, with heavy snow and ice and below-freezing temperatures.