For much of this seemingly endless winter, Lewis Co. School Superintendent John French has woken up to his alarm trilling rudely at 4:00 a.m. He trudges out to travel snow-packed and treacherously icy roads to confirm what he already suspected. He has to call off school. Again. In fact, he's had to make that call 20 times this winter, plus two early dismissals on top of that.

The Lewis County school district has been one of the hardest hit in our area this winter, with Clark, Knox and Marion County R-II coming in as close runners-up. Here's what French had to say:

"We have an extremely large geographic area that our district covers, which spans 5 different counties, and our bus routes include a lot of gravel roads. The ice has been the worst on the gravel roads. Our school parking lots are complete sheets of ice and believe me, we have tried to get them cleared and have taken steps to try to prevent them from being so bad, but it hasn't worked."

You might be wondering if the students will be celebrating the 4th of July chained to their desks, but that's not the case. By Missouri law, schools only have to make up a maximum of ten days, no matter how many times the weather forces a closure. Lewis County already had eight days built into their calendar, so they'll just need to schedule two more make-up days. French guarantees school will let out by May 24.

"I worry about the students experiencing set-backs due to the extended period out of school. I also am concerned about the amount of time the teachers will have with the students to cover all of the material they plan to cover in a year. By the same token, though, I know we have excellent teachers and outstanding students. We will adjust and make accommodations to ensure our kids are well-prepared."

French has also been forced to come up with creative solutions to accommodate extracurricular events.

"It has been a nightmare for all activities. We have had everything from Band events, to FBLA events, to a Blood Drive, fundraisers and athletic events cancelled and rescheduled only to have to cancel again & try to reschedule. In some cases, events have been cancelled with no plans to make up the activity due to a lack of available dates to reschedule."

While he may hear many complaints about the weather, French tells me he hasn't gotten any complaints about his decision to close school for the sake of children's safety. And with more snow on the way this week, you might expect more of those calls in the days ahead.. In fact, the Farmer's Almanac predicts some wicked winter weather well into March!

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