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Winter storm forced classes and meeting to be postponed

Most area students lost three days in the classroom last week, after a storm piled ice and snow on roadways.

McDuffie and Warren County schools were closed Jan. 10-12, and opened two hours later than usual on Thursday and Friday.

Some Georgia school districts remained closed through Friday. Schools remained closed Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

McDuffie school buses did not attempt to traverse all ice-covered dirt roads, and parents were asked to bring their children to meet buses on main, paved roads about two hours after the regularly scheduled pickup times. Children whose  parents were not able to do so  were given excused absences.

"I have driven these roads this afternoon personally," Superintendent Jim LeBrun said in an e-mail to the community Wednesday afternoon. "While the paved roads are nearly 100 percent clear, the unpaved roads remain  challenging in some areas.  The late school start will no doubt help our bus drivers, our parent drivers and, of course, our inexperienced student drivers."

Faculty, staff and administration will make up the snow days on May 23 and 24 as an extension to post-planning.  Mr. LeBrun said those who work in excess of 184 contracted days will coordinate their make-up days with their supervisor. Any staff, faculty or administrator not able to be at work Wednesday because of road conditions can either take  a personal day or schedule a makeup day with the approval of their immediate supervisor.

The storm forced the school board to postpone its Tuesday morning planning session and combine it with the Thursday evening meeting.

Although the storm kept food service workers away from the lunchrooms, the schools adapted to the changes.

Food Services Director David Moton, who supervises the nutrition program, said lunches were prepared on time Thursday and Friday despite the two-hour delay each morning.

However, no breakfast was offered.

"I think there was little bit of confusion as to whether we were going to serve breakfast or not," he said.

Mr. Moton said no food spoiled because of the unscheduled school closings.

"We knew the storm was coming up and we had the managers put everything at what we call prepare state, still in a cooler, so there would be no food to unthaw out in the open atmosphere," he said.

Mr. Moton explained that frozen food is thawed in a controlled environment that is kept at 31 degrees. "It takes a little bit longer, but no food goes to waste," he said.

The food that had been thawing for Monday was used Thursday instead, he said.

"We actually had to change our menu out, you know we have a menu for the month," he said. "Then we got back on track for Friday."

He said the two-hour delay Thursday and Friday mornings gave all food service workers time to drive or find rides to work.

Some workers even came in Wednesday, when schools were closed. "We had deliveries, so the managers and a couple workers came in to unload the trucks," he said.

Web posted on Thursday, January 20, 2011

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