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Activities and after-school programs cancelled due to snowy, icy conditions

SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Owen Neron, 7, sleds on a hill at Sofia Park in Villebois as his older sister, Lucy, 10, throws a snowball at her dad, Joe, on the 'snow day' Feb. 22. Snowmen dressed up in their finest scarves and children taking to the fields for snowball fights and sledding races might be enough to forgive the canceled school activities and after-school programs. But for the West Linn-Wilsonville School District, cancelled school days do bring challenges.

On Tuesday, Feb. 20, the WL-WV School District made the call to release students early and cancel school Wednesday, Feb. 21, and Thursday, Feb. 22, due to inclement weather.

While school was originally scheduled to finish June 12, because of the cancellations school will now end June 14.

"We always enjoy when we are able to have our schools not impacted by weather (but) we have awesome students, parents and a community (where) everyone has flexibility and grace around the impact the weather has on us," said Aaron Downs, assistant superintendent of secondary schools. "I'm impressed with our building leadership team and our teachers do a phenomenal job operating with grace to reschedule complicated events people worked so hard on."

Downs said while a majority of in-school and after-school activities were able to be rescheduled for the following week or at a later date — like Bolton and Sunset primary school's Chinese New Year celebrations and West Linn High School's Improv Nights — some had to be canceled completely.

The Clackamas Community College Skills Competition that was set to take place Thursday, Feb. 22, had a total of 114 students from West Linn and Wilsonville high schools involved in various math, art and other competitions, and was cancelled until next year.

"A few years ago we had snow and it was canceled. CCC cancels classes for their students on this day each year, allowing the high schools to take over the campus. So, when they need to cancel, it cannot be rescheduled," said Lyndi Tucker, college and career coordinator

at WHS. "I'm disappointed

for the students as they always look forward to this day."

WL-WV Communications Director Andrew Kilstrom said the decision to close schools down is a careful one. There are a lot of people involved in checking to make sure the roads and sidewalks are safe.

The school district has an inclement weather team consisting of the superintendent, district office administration, First Student officials — the district's bus company — and district operations staff to track weather forecasts and monitor responses of nearby school districts.

When the inclement weather hits, the team drives local roads around 4:30 a.m. to analyze road conditions and First Student gauges whether the roads are safe for school

buses.

"What people sometimes forget is that if any part of our district is unsafe in terms of transportation, we are required to close the entire district," Kilstrom said. "So while conditions might seem perfectly fine in parts of Wilsonville, we might see icy or snowy driving conditions up on the hill in West Linn — that was the case (Feb. 22)."

There was an initial two-hour delay, but WL-WV Superintendent Kathy Ludwig decided to ultimately cancel school because of road conditions in West Linn.

"Roads in parts of West Linn weren't thawing out as quickly as we had hoped and thus the decision to close," Kilstrom said. "It's district practice to close all afternoon and evening activities in the event of school closure."

Ultimately, Downs said things went smooth and the weather had no significant impacts on the schools.

"We are hoping for no more inclement weather days, that would be nice," Downs said. "I'm proud of the way our community comes together and then we move forward in a positive way."

Reporter Clara Howell can be reached at [email protected] or 503-636-1281 ext. 313.

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