While the rains from Hurricane Irene ended on Sunday, the storm’s impacts had a much longer lasting effect on the .
The impetus of downed power lines, many of which were still live, proved to be too much of a risk for opening school today for Westford Superintendent Bill Olsen.
Olsen announced his decision at last night’s School Committee meeting, explaining that he conferred with Westford Chief of Police Thomas McEnaney over the decision.
McEnaney told Olsen that despite the fact the weather had improved, many roads remained impassable in town and did not feel comfortable with children trying to get on school buses in areas where live power wires may be nearby. Olsen concurred, notifying the committee he felt that it was not worth putting the safety of children at risk for a day of school.
“Whether it’s the safety of 10 kids or one kid of 10,000, it’s equally important,” said Olsen. “Is it unsettling to cancel the first day of school? Yes it is. I can’t remember cancelling the first day of school in my 41 years in education, but the issue of safety is really important.”
When rumors of the cancellation arose, Olsen told the board he received an angry phone call from a parent that cited much of the town had recovered from the storm and the first day shouldn’t be cancelled for everyone, but Olsen stood by his decision
“There are a lot of kids going to school, but if you’re making that decision based only on the few in areas with those wires, I say to that yes; because the safety of every child is important,” he said.
The Grade 6 and 9 orientations planned for Tuesday have been postponed until Wednesday where they will be conjoined with other middle school and high school orientations respectively.
No plans are available as of yet regarding the Kindergarten orientation on Tuesday, which was planned to be the first half of a two-day orientation, with the second half coming on Wednesday.