By James Beaty
McAlester Public Schools planned to hold classes today, with wind chills forecast to plummet as low as 2 below zero and a 60-percent chance of snow in the forecast.
Those were the plans as of Wednesday afternoon, although McAlester Public Schools Superintendent Marsha Gore said school officials planned to monitor the situation to determine if any change of plans was needed.
The Oklahoma City School District canceled classes Wednesday because of the bitterly cold temperatures, which
remained below freezing throughout the day.
Today’s high in McAlester was forecast to peak at around 20 degrees.
Asked Wednesday if administrators at MPS had given any thought to canceling today’s classes due to the cold conditions, Gore said “We have considered doing something like that.”
However, as of Wednesday afternoon, the decision had been to go ahead with today’s classes.
Gore said MPS tried to make sure that all of the buses were at the bus stops on time.
“We’re encouraging parents to wait with their children,” Gore said, a reference to requesting parents not leave their children outside at the bus stops before the bus arrives.
MPS normally does not let students go outside in extreme weather, according to Gore.
“We don’t put the kids out when it’s freezing weather anyway,” she said.
Referring to the decision in the Oklahoma City School District to cancel Wednesday’s classes because of the extreme temperatures, Gore said, “I think they have kids that have to stand at bus stops a long time.”
Asked if MPS doesn’t have any students who have to wait at school bus stops for long periods of time, Gore said, “I’m not going to say we don’t. That depends on the parent.”
However, she said school officials haven’t observed any students having to wait for a long time at bus stops.
Gore said she and other school administrators have been checking all the MPS buildings “to make sure the heaters are working and to make sure it’s warm.”
She said she had personally been to several schools Wednesday, including McAlester High School.
“Every school we’re been in today has been nice and warm,” Gore said.
Gore also said MPS has a system that keeps the buildings from getting too cold overnight, with a heating system that kicks on automatically if the temperature ever drops below 55 degrees through the nighttime hours.
Despite having to cancel several days of school so far this year because of inclement weather, MPS is not out of snow days.
“We have nine more snow days built into our calendar,” Gore said.
Even so, Gore said MPS plans to make up one snow day Feb. 17 on President’s Day — a day that had originally been planned as a day off for students.
“Normally, we do professional development on that day,” Gore said.
However, Gore said school administrators feel it’s important that the students get ready for writing tests scheduled later this month, resulting in the decision to make Feb. 17 a regular school day.
Contact James Beaty at firstname.lastname@example.org.