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Schools close in advance of possible snow

Snowfall may be a rare event in the Black Belt, but that doesn’t mean local school leaders are taking any chances with the students and teachers on potentially slick and snowy roadways.

The majority of area schools have canceled classes for Tuesday and Wednesday, and Don Willingham, Superintendent of Education for the Dallas County School System, said the timing of the system’s expected arrival in the region was a big reason he decided to call off classes.

“It should be hitting us between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.,” Willingham said. “Even if we tried to have half a day Tuesday, we would run a risk of getting the buses into some rough patches. We don’t want the students to get to school and not have a way to get home.”

Gerald Shirley, Superintendent of Education for the Selma City School System, who also decided to cancel school for Tuesday and Wednesday, said he and other school leaders would keep their eye on the forecast before making a decision on whether or not to cancel classes on Thursday.

“We will just look at the forecast later on to see about Thursday. In the South you can see one snowflake and we want to close things down,” Shirley said. “This is something that just doesn’t happen down here, and the safety of the students and the employees is paramount.”

Willingham said the potential for snow or ice to melt and refreeze on the county’s roads could be a reasons for classes to be canceled later in the week.

“It depends on how much snow or ice develops Tuesday and Wednesday, and we know it will be below freezing early Thursday,” Willingham said. “So it also depends on how much melts and refreezes. Hopefully, not much will land and stick over the next two days.”

Along with the schools in the Selma and Dallas County school systems, Morgan Academy, Ellwood Christian Academy, Cathedral Christian Academy and Leika’s will also be closed Tuesday and Wednesday.

At press time, Concordia College Alabama planned to close at 2 p.m. Tuesday and remain closed Wednesday, while Meadowview Christian School will be closed Tuesday and will announce details regard Wednesday’s school plans later.

Officials at Wallace Community College-Selma had not reached a decision when contacted by the Times-Journal Monday afternoon.