Columbia public schools dismiss an hour early

Monday, January 10, 2011 | 4:38 p.m. CST; updated 10:44 a.m. CST, Tuesday, January 11, 2011

COLUMBIA — Columbia public schools dismissed an hour early Monday due to inclement weather and will be closed Tuesday.

"This was the safest decision for our students," said Michelle Baumstark, community relations coordinator for Columbia Public Schools.

Baumstark said it is very rare that Columbia public schools dismiss early, but various factors were considered in deciding to do so Monday.

For Tuesday, school officials plan to follow their usual procedures for inclement weather: drive the roads Monday night and announce in the early morning if schools are closed.

If schools close, announcements will be made via local media, the Columbia Public  Schools website and cable access channel, CPS television, text and e-mail alert systems and websites of the individual schools.

Snowfall close to dismissal time, low temperatures and road conditions, Baumstark said, are some of the factors the district will look at. Columbia public schools haven't closed early in a number of years. The last school closing was during a major ice storm.

The dismissal time is late enough that school closings will not be counted as a snow day, so Monday will be considered a full day.

The district considers transportation and the students' ability to get into their homes when they are dropped off when closing schools. Baumstark said school officials have been announcing the early dismissal hours in advance to notify parents. They hope to prevent children arriving home while parents are still at work.

Buses for the public schools run two routes, one for elementary and one for secondary schools, scheduled to arrive at the dismissal times for each. Students will be provided with transportation on buses, but parents may decide to pick up their children as well.

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