COLUMBIA — The elementary and middle schools in Columbia Public Schools were closed on election day, but the junior and senior high schools held classes as normal.
Although several middle and elementary schools were used as polling places for the election, that was not the lone factor for closing the schools, district spokesperson Michelle Baumstark said. Several schools that were polling places did stay open.
Of the 28 schools in the district, 13 were used as polling places for the election, including eight elementary schools, two middle schools, two junior high schools and one high school.
“It’s certainly something that we take into consideration, but it also needs to align with our needs as a school district,” Baumstark said.
The closure was officially designated as a teacher’s workday and allowed teachers to catch up on work and prepare for upcoming parent-teacher conferences.
Brent Ghan, a spokesman for the Missouri School Boards' Association, said there is not any sort of trend in whether schools close for the election in Missouri.
“It varies between school district to school district,” he said. “Some schools, because of the traffic in and out of the school, like to keep the students home.”
Ghan said security might be a concern, although he has never heard of any major security breaches happening on an election day. A more likely reason, he said, could be that some schools feel the high traffic disrupts the learning environment.
On the other hand, Ghan said, some schools think it’s important for the students to see the voting.