>Des Moines Public Schools are cancelled… NOT

>So… despite the countless prayers from my fellow colleagues, we did not have a snow day today. I didn’t really expect to have one, but as I watched, with one eye open, the school cancellations scroll across the ticker at 5:30 this morning, I found myself holding my breath each time the D’s would come back around.

In first Block, I was missing 11 out of 22 students. I figured a bus was running late and didn’t think much of it. About 15 minutes into class, however, a student calls out:

Student: “My brother (who is in high school) just texted me. He says that school’s just been cancelled.”

Me: “Well that’s interesting since we are all here, and as far as I can tell, we are in class already.”

Another student: “Maybe he means we get out early?”

Me: “That could be a possibility. The winds are supposed to get really bad and blow the snow around a bit. I’ll check on the computer while you guys cross your fingers.”

I pull up KCCI.com (our trusty local weather station) and click on the button labeled “172 school cancellations and delays.” I click on the “D” and scroll down through the list. I see “Des Moines Public Schools” and get so excited that I gasp and accidentally hit the wrong button closing the screen.

I am attacked by a barrage of “Miss Lewis, why’d you do that?” “You can’t leave us in suspense.” “COME ON!”

Me: “Everybody just simmer down. For crying out loud. Give me a minute.”

By now my 11 gems, who did show up, are crowded around my computer as I pull the site back up. I scroll down as we all read aloud, “Des Moines Public Schools, CORRECTION: Schools are OPEN.”

Later the staff received this email from our superintendent:

Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 12:41 PM
To: Board; ADMIN_ALL
Subject: Emergency Weather Closing

Dear Colleagues:
It is unfortunate that KCCI incorrectly notified the public that the Des Moines School District had canceled school today. As you may know, our district spokesperson notifies the media if school has been cancelled. To avoid false reports, she is required to enter a secret pass code, verifying that it is an authorized closure. The pass codes are assigned by the various media outlets and the system is automated.

What we have learned is that KCCI inadvertently switched their assigned pass codes between DMPS and the Webster City school district. Therefore, when Webster City decided to cancel school this morning, they unknowingly entered the DMPS pass code into the KCCI system.

(Our spokesperson) had notified KCCI last fall that we had received the Webster City pass code however KCCI did not make the correction in their system. They have assured us that the correction has taken place and that this error will not happen again.

I apologize for the inconvenience caused by the KCCI error. Employee and student safety is of our utmost concern. Please share this information with employees in your schools. Thank you.

N—- S—–

This only caused minor problems for the middle and high schools, which start at the crack of dawn, but for the elementary buildings that start later… Let’s just say that several teachers, who had heard the announcement and went back to bed, received phone calls from principals asking why they were not at work.

On a side note: We did end up having a full day of school, and I am now on a Top Secret Mission to find the DMPS school cancellation secret code.

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