Some Spokane area students spent Tuesday in dark classrooms. Others dodged downed power lines on their walk home.
Still others went without lunch when kitchens lost power.
Spokane schools and the East, West and Central Valley school districts will be closed today because administrators were worried about children walking to school among downed power lines. They also wanted more time to clean buildings that had no electricity Tuesday.
District 81 Superintendent Gary Livingstone made the decision to close the region’s largest school district late Tuesday at the request of city and county officials.
The Mead School District also will be closed at the request of county officials.
Nine Mile Falls Superintendent Don Baumberger hadn’t made a decision late Tuesday whether to close schools today but advised parents to listen to radio reports. He said two elementary schools were without power.
On Tuesday, at least 33 Spokane schools and most Mead and Valley schools lost power.
Students at North Central High School were stuck in their classrooms for more than two hours because interior rooms - such as restrooms, the cafeteria and corridors without windows - went black.
“We felt it was dangerous to let them out in the dark hallways,” said Laurie Dolan, area director for northwest Spokane schools.
School officials finally dashed plans to cater lunches in classrooms and sent students home about 1:30 p.m.
Some elementary schools, including Grant in south Spokane, lost power by 10:30 a.m. Children weren’t released early because principals worried about sending youngsters off to houses without heat, light, and in some cases, parents.
“They’re our responsibility until there’s an adult home, and we don’t know that until the regular release time,” said Livingston.
At Grant, teachers used flashlights to usher children to the bathrooms.
In Mead and the Valley, downed power lines and trees forced school bus drivers to return children to schools until parents could pick them up.
In the Spokane Valley, more than 30 children at East Farms Elementary were trapped temporarily when fallen trees blocked roads.
At 5 p.m., a handful of students remained huddled in the cold school, waiting for parents, who arrived shortly after.
Downed power lines blocked bus routes, forcing students back to the Valley school. With useless copy machines, some schools had trouble getting messages home to parents about problems caused by weather. Often, telephones weren’t working, making matters even worse.
Educators running after-school programs in buildings without power frantically tried to reach parents before dark, said Nancy Stowell, area director for schools in south Spokane. “Kids are kind of sitting around the flashlight,” she said.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: SCHOOLS CLOSED, SHELTERS OPEN Schools closed today: Districts that announced Tuesday night they will be closed today include Spokane District 81, Mead, Central Valley, East Valley, West Valley, Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Lakeland, Bonner County and Boundary County. For information about other districts and colleges, listen to radio stations for advisories. Shelters: The Red Cross has set up shelters at Seth Woodard School, 7401 E. Mission (921-2160); Airway Heights Community Center, 13120 W. 13th (244-4845); Millwood School, 8818 E. Grace; and Libby Center, 2900 E. First (353-4516). For updated shelter information, call 326-3330. Elderly and disabled transportation: Call 456-2204. Contributions: Donations can be dropped off or mailed to the Red Cross office, 315 W. Nora.