School cancellation stirs worry concerning finals


Roads like Red Bay Creek Rd. are covered with snow and ice, posing potentially dangerous driving conditions, a reason for why school is canceled tomorrow. Photo by Yousuf El-Jayyousi

Rochita Ghosh

Updated at 1:21 p.m. on Dec. 19.
[dropcap style=”simple” size=”4″]O[/dropcap]n Sunday, Dec. 18, at 4:53 p.m., Columbia Public Schools (CPS) Communications Director Michelle Baumstark sent out an email to parents announcing that CPS would not be in session on Monday, Dec. 19 due to inclement weather.
The temperatures on Monday are expected to hover around 10 degrees Fahrenheit; and the wind chill will further lower the perceived temperature to around zero degrees, according to KOMU-TV. The frigid weather combined with the hazardous road conditions still in effect for some parts of Columbia, was the reason for tomorrow’s closing, Baumstark said.
“Our school district covers 300 square miles and we have a lot to consider when making the decision to not have school,” Baumstark said in an email interview. “We drove routes earlier today and while some areas are OK, others are not.”
[heading size=”16″]CPS decides to cancel school rather than selecting a late start[/heading] Baumstark and the district could have chose to implement a late start, in which the school day begins two hours later and class times are shortened for the district. The weather and temperature, however, made cancellation the best option.
“With [temperatures] not increasing much [throughout the day], it also ruled out the option for a two-hour delayed start,” Baumstark said. “The sunlight won’t make much difference with an additional two hours.”
While students typically greet the news of school cancellation with joy, some feel angry instead. Because the day off is so close to winter break and interferes with finals exams, students like sophomore Laura Scoville are frustrated, yet still grateful.
“I’m a little mad since I’ve been studying all day for my pre-calculus final,” Scoville said. “However, I’m thrilled that I get to sleep for once.”
[heading size=”16″]Parents react to school cancellation[/heading] Her mother, Caryn Scoville, said the district’s decision was uninformed and unneeded, especially with winter break on the horizon.
“I was out today and [the roads] were fine,” Caryn Scoville said. “I think it is unnecessary that the school is closed. They didn’t need to interrupt finals.”
Laura Scoville is unsure of how tomorrow’s day off will affect her finals and, subsequently, her grades.
“I am really worried on how missing my final will impact my grade, especially if they push the final back until next semester,” Laura Scoville said.
[heading size=”16″]First semester extends to next year[/heading] Her fears came true. At 9:11 p.m., assistant principal Dr. Timothy Baker sent out an email to parents stating that Tuesday will remain an A day, but will no longer be the final day of the first semester. The last day will be Jan. 4, after winter break, and second semester will begin on the preceding day, Jan. 5.
Plans were later revised by RBHS administration. On Monday at 11:21 a.m.,  Dr. Baker sent out an additional email saying RBHS will complete first semester on Jan. 9, with semester report cards releasing on Jan. 13. When finals will be taken will be decided on a teacher-by-teacher basis, Dr. Baker said in the email.
Principal Dr. Jennifer Rukstad said the decision allows more flexibility for students rather than having to take the final the day they come back from break. She said grades would be due at 9 a.m. on Jan. 11.
“We made the decision this morning to end the semester on Jan. 9 to allow the latitude for courses to have a review day then a test day upon return,” Dr. Rukstad said. “This would allow that to happen for A and B days.”

Do you agree with CPS’s decision to close schools? Let us know below.