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Area schools handle aftermath of winter storm

Elisabeth Slay
The Shawnee News-Star
Kamdyn and Kynleigh enjoy the snow in Pottawatomie County and make snow angels.

Over the last week, various schools have been out of classes due to the extreme cold and winter snowstorm, but as things thaw out, crews will repair any issues caused by the weather.

According to Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent Dr. April Grace, students learned virtually and didn't have any snow days during the winter storm.

"While we know that in-person learning is always the best option for most of our families and students, we are thankful to have the opportunity to continue learning so that we do not have to substantially extend the student school year calendar," Grace said.

Because of frigid temperatures, she explained there was some water damage in two classrooms at Sequoyah Elementary School.

"So far everyone is doing well overall, while we know that some families or staff may have experienced waterline issues or power outages at times. It is a time when we continue to offer grace and empathy to one another," Grace said."We are checking each building thoroughly as we get parking lots, entrances, and walkways cleared."

Along with Shawnee Public Schools, McLoud Public Schools Superintendent Steve Stanley said the district had a pipe burst in the elementary school gym.

He explained the district has assessed the damage, removed all the water and placed heaters in the gym.

Stanley said he hopes the wooden gym floor will survive the damage.

In addition, due to the inability to hand out laptops before the snow, Stanley said other than one virtual day, students had snow days during this storm.

The superintendent said the district has two days built in, but will have to make up the remaining missed days before the school year is over.

Stanley said the district plans to return to in-person learning on Monday, Feb, 22 if all goes well.

The McLoud district is currently clearing parking lots and preparing for everyone to return.

Like McLoud, Bethel Public Schools Superintendent Tod Harrison said there was water damage to buildings on campus.

"We have been checking our buildings daily during this unprecedented cold spell," Harrison said. "On Wednesday we found a busted water line leading into our wrestling facility."

He explained they were able to shut off the water with potentially minimal damage.

However, on Thursday Harrison said another water line pipe burst in the host water closet in the district's competition gym.

"We don't believe it was busted for a lengthy amount of time but it did flow directly onto our gym floor," Harrison said. "The initial damage looks to be extensive to the wood floor."

The district filed its insurance claim, Harrison said, and is currently waiting for contact from the insurance adjuster.

"We will move as quickly as possible to get repairs done," Harrison said. 

Bethel Public Schools said its students can return to in-person school as soon as possible. 

"We feel the best place for our students is still in front of their teacher in the classroom," Harrison said. "We will do our best to serve our students in the virtual and remote setting when required."