Why some districts choose to cancel school, not delay

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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Icy conditions forced school districts across Kansas to close Thursday, including Wichita Public Schools.

USD 259 chose to cancel classes late Wednesday night. Main roads around Wichita were clear Thursday morning, but many neighborhood streets were still covered in ice hours after kids would have been heading to school.

Eyewitness News asked a spokesperson with Wichita Public Schools why they chose to cancel school as opposed to delay the start a couple hours.

"We have schools that open at 7, 8 and 9 with buses driving all those routes on a tiered system. With a district the size that we are, it is difficult to make those accommodations compared to smaller districts. We also consider that it can create a hardship for parents of elementary students as they need to make adjustments for supervision or rides to school."

With single-digit temperatures and ice, school districts in Garden City, Holcomb and Liberal closed, but Dodge City schools remained open.

Some parents expressed concerns on social media but as the day went on, other parents said the school district did the right thing.

"I don't think it was that bad to close today. I've worked for the school district for years so I've seen when it's bad and needs to be closed but today everyone is getting around," said grandparent and former district employee, Beverly Burney.

Roads were clear enough back in Wichita for parents to get their kids to snow day destinations like the YMCA, Exploration Place and out to eat.

"The gym gets full, the pool gets a little busier during open swim," said Jamie Moore, Senior Program Director at the North YMCA branch.

Moore says they expected an influx of kids as soon as they heard school was canceled.

"It's too cold, too icy to go outside. It gets them up and gets them active. They're able to come play and hang out with friends and it gets them off those electronic devices they have at home," said Moore.

Danasia Turner says she had to find a way to keep her seven nieces and nephews and two children busy on Thursday.

"It gets hectic though, nine kids one grown up, Exploration Place it gets hectic but I like coming here," she said.

Restaurants say they also tend to see a boost in business when school is out.

"Generally, it is good when kids are out of school because their parents get cooped up with the kids and they want to get out of the house and they want to do something. What better reason to get out than to go to a restaurant and get something to eat everybody's gotta eat," said the manager of Jimmie's Diner in east Wichita.

Mom Tamara Morgan agrees. She says it's best to get out of the house before everyone goes crazy.

"I would absolutely suggest if it is safe for you to get out to try to get out your kids are going to enjoy it, it's a good time to spend with your family," she said.

If you're wondering, most Kansas schools will be in session on Friday. You can find a list of all closings and delays here.