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Schools shut down after morning weather advisory

SALISBURY — Rowan-Salisbury Schools dismissed classes four hours early Monday because of weather forecasts calling for freezing rain. 

School system officials initially planned to dismiss students three hours early Monday, district Public Information Officer Rita Foil said, but they moved up the timeline after receiving updated weather reports.

Parents and guardians were told of the dismissal by an automated phone call.

At the time, Rowan County was under a winter weather advisory from the National Weather Service. The advisory began at 9 a.m. and called for freezing rain to begin early in the afternoon. However, the advisory was canceled later in the day as dry air caused precipitation to evaporate before it reached the ground.

The dismissal follows a week of cold temperatures and rocky schedules. Last week, temperatures plummeted as a wave of arctic air settled over the region. Schools had a two-hour delay on Jan. 2 and again Friday.

Some schools, however, didn’t make it through Monday’s shortened day. According to Foil, three schools were forced to dismiss students even earlier because of mechanical malfunctions that left the buildings without heat. Salisbury High School dismissed at 9 a.m., Millbridge Elementary dismissed at 9:30 a.m. and Henderson Independent High School dismissed at about 11:15 a.m.

All three schools had boiler malfunctions, Assistant Superintendent Anthony Vann said. The three joined Granite Quarry Elementary, which closed early Friday because of boiler problems, as well.

“The weather has had a lot to do with it,” Vann said.

The continued freeze made school boilers work harder. While some of the boiler systems — like at Millbridge — haven’t reached their projected 20-year lifespan, the stress opens the door to malfunction and breakage in pipes, lines and pumps that help heat schools.

“It really puts a strain on these systems, and that’s why we’ve had so many go out at the same time,” Vann said.

Some, such as the one at Granite Quarry, were repaired quickly, but officials said it would take several hours for the cold brick school buildings to be warm enough to hold classes.

Foil said Monday afternoon that it was too early to determine if a delay or cancellation would be called for today.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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