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School districts across Kansas City prep ahead of icy conditions

Liberty School Bus.png
Posted at 9:54 PM, Jan 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-17 00:11:23-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While roadways were bone-dry Thursday, school districts around the metro are preparing the latest round of winter weather moving in overnight.

"Although the superintendent of our district makes the call, everybody's contributing to the decision," Jeff Baird, transportation director for Liberty Public schools, said.

With ice expected to be the major threat, Liberty is taking special steps with their fleet of nearly 100 school buses.

"The mirrors are rounded so you can't scrape them so we'll start tonight by putting plastic bags over the mirrors," Baird said.

Baird along with other district leaders planned to assess conditions firsthand as the students slept, but most districts ultimately called off class Friday with potentially hazardous conditions expected before rush hour.

[RELATED: Here are updated closings for Jan. 17]

Liberty and nearly every other major school district in the Kansas City area had called off school Fridy by 9 p.m., providing students and teachers with a four-day weekend. Schools also are out Monday in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

"The problem with ice is you don't always see it on the roads, so we'll go out and drive the most difficult roads before the buses even hit the road to make sure that they're safe for travel," Baird said.

The timing on a district's decision to closen school is always a moving target.

"They wait usually kind of later in the evening the night before and we usually get a text message or an email," Jamie Corbett, a parent whose child goes to school in Shawnee,said.

"I hope that they have school tomorrow but looks like they're not going to," another parent, Sarah Swift, said.

Some school districts also provide before and after-school care, but the threat of treacherous roads has closed those services too in districts like Blue Springs.

Kansas City, Missouri, Public Schools began preparations by having crews at their schools and headquarters spread sand on sidewalks and parking lots.

The district also engaged in conversations internally and with neighboring school systems about whether to cancel school, a KCPS spokesperson said.

KCPS officials also ask families with bus riders to download the district's "SafeSchools" app to track school bus routes. But it's a moot point for Friday with KCPS among the districts that have called off classes for Friday.