Weather caused some students to learn from home all week

Published 12:00 am Sunday, November 1, 2020

By Carl Blankenship

SALISBURY — Some Rowan County students were not at schools at all this week due to adverse weather and ensuing power outages.

Rowan-Salisbury Schools called off all classes on Thursday in anticipation of weather resulting in power outages and wind damage. Several schools were still without power late in the day on Thursday and the district opted to cancel classes Friday for facilities that included West Rowan High, West Rowan Elementary, Faith Elementary and Rockwell Elementary.

Because of the blended schedule that only places students in schools two days a week. Half the students at those schools did not go to step foot in class this week.

West Rowan High Principal Jamie Durant said he does not think the absences will cause the school to miss a beat, adding teachers and students became accustomed to working online last semester. Durant said he does not think high schoolers are the only ones who will adapt, noting he has a fourth grader and a seventh grader who are able to stay on top of their virtual assignments as well.

Durant said student safety is always the school’s top concern when there are problems due to weather. With outages and questions about whether students were prepared to get t0 school, he said it was better to err on the side of caution.

Rockwell Elementary Principal Jennifer Warden echoed the idea that safety is the main concern.

She said it is not typical to miss days this time of year and problems with weather are not unusual. When she was a teacher at the school in 1998, classes were called off for several days for similar kinds of weather.

Warden said most of her teachers spent the day re-doing instructional plans for next week to adapt. She said sometimes adults don’t credit students for being as adaptable as they are.

“The main thing is this: we do not want our families nor students stressed about missing any remote work the last two days due to power issues,” Warden said. “We are ready to work with our families and students.”

RSS Public Information Officer Rita Foil said the district realizes internet and power service may have been splotchy on Friday and dos not want families to be anxious.

“Teachers will work with them,” Foil said.

Missing days of school is nothing new to most students. Students were not in schools from March to June after Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all public schools to close in March. For a few thousand of the district’s 18,500 students, they have not step foot in a classroom at all this school year, instead opting for all virtual through high schools or the district’s new virtual school.

The outages left about 7,000 people without power on Thursday and the National Weather Service issued a warning for tropical storm Zeta as it passed through the area.

First responders had to contend with about 100 calls about downed trees and power lines on Thursday. Several trees fell on houses, but no one was reported injured.

About Carl Blankenship

Carl Blankenship has covered education for the Post since December 2019. Before coming to Salisbury he was a staff writer for The Avery Journal-Times in Newland and graduated from Appalachian State University in 2017, where he was editor of The Appalachian.

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