Monday, February 26, 2024

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Severe weather forecast prompts ABSS to shorten school day, cancel afterschool activities; ACC cancels classes

QUESTION:  Why did the Alamance-Burlington school system cancel all afterschool activities for Tuesday afternoon?

ANSWER:  Because of the potential for severe weather Tuesday afternoon and evening.
The National Weather Service has issued multiple advisories for much of the state of North Carolina calling for heavy rain, strong winds, and potential flooding – as well as the possibility of tornado formation – starting early Tuesday afternoon and lasting through the early evening hours.

Numerous weather services have issued a flood watch from 9:00 a.m. Tuesday until 12:00 a.m. Wednesday and a wind advisory from 10:00 a.m. until 10 p.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the school board announced Tuesday morning that it had canceled its latest work session scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.  “The contracts that need to be voted on can wait until the evening meeting on January 22,” school board chairman Sandy Ellington-Graves told The Alamance News Tuesday morning.

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Alamance Community College officials announced Tuesday morning that all classes and activities scheduled after 11:00 a.m. Tuesday would be canceled.

In announcing that all afterschool activities would be canceled for Tuesday afternoon, ABSS officials initially said they were “closely monitoring the current forecast to ensure the safety of our students and staff…While we prioritize instructional time, safety remains our top concern.”

However, the school system’s administration ultimately decided Monday evening to instead dismiss students between 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 Noon Tuesday, citing an upgraded risk of severe weather that had been forecast by the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service (NWS) revised its forecast around 5:00 p.m. Monday that raised the risk for severe weather in Alamance County from low to moderate, ABSS public information officer Les Atkins told The Alamance News Tuesday morning.

The school system’s administration eventually determined that releasing students starting at 11:00 a.m. would give bus drivers enough time to “get kids home ahead of the brunt of the storm,” Atkins said in the interview.  “We were trying to release students ahead of when the National Weather Service said it was going to hit. . . We were trying to look out for our staff, students, bus drivers.  Other schools around us ended up closing [for the day].”

Guilford County schools canceled all classes and activities for Tuesday; and the Caswell, Orange, and Person County school systems announced that students would be dismissed early Tuesday, according to messages posted on each of the websites for those four school systems.

“It looks like the highest risk for our area is between 3:00 and 7:00 [p.m.],” Atkins told the newspaper Tuesday morning. “This does count as [an instructional] day, so our calendar will not have to be adjusted in any way.  These decisions are never easy; we did it early in the evening to give families an opportunity to make arrangements.”

Meanwhile, Governor Roy Cooper has declared a state of emergency because of the anticipated severe weather.

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