Keokuk County to 'Elsa': We Apologize

What do the school staff do on Facebook? Sled of course! Superintendent Dave Harper (far left) films a video for snapchat to update students on the status of school. Harper communicated various closings and delays via videos on the social media platform.

Sigourney, Iowa- By the middle of January, many were starting to wonder if the predictions of a cold and wet winter might have been off. After the area received a foot and a half of snow during a late fall snowstorm, winter calmed itself, with somewhat mild temperatures from December through beginnings of the new year. 

However, by the weekend of January 12-13, that changed as the area got hit with the first snow of 2019, an event that brought over eight inches of snow. Warmer temperatures the following week led to some melting of snow, and a sense of normalcy. Within a matter of days, that changed again. Winter Storm Harper slammed the area on January 18-19, leading many schools to dismiss early. Sigourney and surrounding areas received another six to eight inches of snow. Within a matter of days, yet another storm arrived, bringing with it a 1-2-3 punch. 

Freezing rain on January 22 led to schools in the area to cancel classes for the day, as travel became extremely treacherous. That evening, Sigourney received yet another six inches of snow. Students in the area had yet another snow day on January 23, as roads remained snow covered. Blowing snow throughout the day led to drifting of snow, particularly in the rural areas, and covering of roads that had already been plowed. Many area students had their third snow day of the week, as schools closed on January 24, due to forecasted strong winds throughout the day, which caused blowing snow and near whiteout conditions in rural areas. As the weather started to look clear for Friday, January 25, the third punch landed on Keokuk County as a blast of frigid air shut down schools. The number of snow days during the last week has led some to wonder how the decision to cancel is made and how schools are preceding forward with the amount of snow days that need to be made up.

Dave Harper has been Superintendent of the Sigourney School district since 2014, also serving as the shared superintendent of the Pekin School District. Harper said that in the five years he has been in Keokuk County, this winter has especially tough.

“This has been the most difficult one I have had to deal with in the last five years.,” Harper said.

Harper said that one of the things he looks at in deciding whether or not to delay or close school is travel conditions.

“How will a 16-year-old driver handle the roads and how will our buses handle the roads also?” Harper said of making the difficult decision.

For more on this story and others, catch the January 30 edition of the News-Review.