01/03/18 — County schools announce closures, early dismissal

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County schools announce closures, early dismissal

By Joey Pitchford
Published in News on January 3, 2018 5:50 AM

In light of expected snowfall, Wayne County Public Schools announced some school closures and early dismissals for others today.

Wayne/Early Middle College High School and the Wayne School of Engineering will be closed today and all schools on the traditional academic calendar as well as Goldsboro High School will dismiss three hours early.

All after-school programs have been canceled for this afternoon.

On the first day back from winter break Tuesday, schools across the county opened on a two-hour delay in response to the frigid weather sweeping across the area.

Grantham Elementary, Grantham Middle and Northeast Elementary schools were also closed today after suffering utility failures, with one closure a direct result of the freezing temperatures.

All three schools are expected to be reopened today.

At Northeast, an issue with the fuel pipes beneath the school left the building without heat, Ken Derksen, spokesperson for Wayne County Public Schools, said.

"It's an issue with the fuel oil pipes, they aren't allowing fuel to come from the underground tank up to the heating units," he said. "It's certainly something to do with the weather, either the pipes are frozen or something else."

The district knew about the issue last night, Derksen said, but held off on canceling school to try and fix the problem in time. With the fuel still stuck, freezing temperatures outside have affected the conditions indoors enough to warrant keeping students home, Derksen said.

Grantham Elementary and Grantham Middle were without water after a construction crew working in the area damaged a water line leading to both schools, according to a press release from the school system.

Derksen said the administration learned of the incident Tuesday morning while some students were on the way to school.

"We found out about it as Grantham Middle students were en route, but Grantham Elementary students had not been picked up yet because those schools share buses," he said.

Derksen said he did not know if any students got off the buses, but that they were quickly put back on and sent home. The system also contacted parents in case they needed to pick their children up, he said.

"The bottom line is it just comes down to student safety," he said. "You can't have school without water, and you can't have school without heat, especially when you have frigid temperatures like the ones we're having."

Water was restored to Grantham Elementary and Middle around 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, with heat expected to return at Northeast later in the afternoon.