SOME STUDENTS BACK IN SCHOOL DESPITE PROBLEMS
By Eileen Bailey
Classes will resume today for students in the Tupelo Public School District despite some lingering problems caused by the ice storm. However, students in the Lee County School District will not return today because of unsafe roads.
County and city school district personnel worked long hours Tuesday and Wednesday fixing frozen pipes and cleaning walkways to get schools ready for students to return.
Dr. Sarah Chittom, assistant superintendent for the district, said the county students wouldn't return to classes today "because the roads in some parts of the county are not safe."
County Superintendent Lynn Lindsey said two days were built into the school calender for instances like this. He said how and when students will make up the other three days they missed is uncertain.
Tupelo students will make up their missed days at the end of the year. The district's calendar had the last day of school as May 24, but because of the missed days students' last day will now be May 31. Classes will not meet May 27 because of the Memorial Day holiday. Graduation is scheduled for May 23 and will be held as planned.
The ice storm that hit Northeast Mississippi on the first day of the month caused damage at several city and county schools.
In the Tupelo district, toilets and pipes froze at Milam Intermediate School. Jimmy Britt, owner of Speciality Plumbing in Nettleton, said he has answered at least 30 calls for frozen pipes during the last five days, including those at Milam.
The problems at Milam and other schools were discovered during the last two days as the ice began to melt. Awnings at Joyner and Lawhon school fell under the weight of the ice, said Tupelo Public School District Superintendent Dr. Mike Vinson.
At Saltillo Elementary, the weight of the ice collapsed a metal canopy over a sidewalk. "There is several inches of water up here," said maintenance worker Billy Coggins as he stood on top of the elementary school shoveling ice off the building.
The melting ice began to drip in both the new and old parts of the cafeteria. The new portion of the cafeteria was opened at the beginning of school.
Lindsey said damage also occurred at Saltillo High School, where pipes froze and a drain was knocked off the building by ice that fell from the roof.
Warm weather ahead
Ken Wampner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Memphis, said warm weather will be in the forecast for Northeast Mississippi through the weekend.
The high for Wednesday was 46 and the low was 36. The high today will be in the mid-50s with lows in the 40s. There will be a 20 percent chance of rain today, mainly in the morning hours.
Partly cloudy skies will cover Northeast Mississippi on Friday as the highs reach the upper 60s and the lows dip into the 40s.
The weekend promises even warmer temperatures. The highs for Saturday and Sunday will be in the 70s with lows in the 40s. Thunderstorms are expected Sunday, Wampner said.