The cold blast sweeping across North Carolina prompted officials in all five area school districts Monday to delay the opening of schools on Tuesday.
The Currituck, Camden, Perquimans, Edenton-Chowan and Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools all opened two hours later than normal, primarily because of the extreme cold temperatures expected in the area and because of the effects freezing temperatures overnight could have on area roadways.
“(The two-hour delay) will allow bus routes to begin during daylight hours,” said Elizabeth City-Pasquotank spokeswoman Angela Noblitt, adding that staff were expected to report to work at their usual time.
“This (delay) will allow time for our maintenance staff to check the conditions for each of the buildings to ensure there are no effects of the cold temperatures, as well as allow for additional time as students board the buses,” Marianne Russell, director of personnel/community schools for Camden County Schools, said in an email on Monday.
Currituck Assistant Superintendent Sandy Kinzel said the school district’s maintenance director would ensure school buildings were warm by the time students arrived.
In addition to delaying school openings by two hours, Perquimans County Schools canceled all after-school programs on Tuesday, said spokeswoman Brenda Cross.
Even though schools are open on Tuesday, school officials advised parents to ensure their children arrive at school dressed in warm clothing.
According to the National Weather Service, temperatures in the Elizabeth City area were expected to dip Monday night to a low of 15. Winds will be 20 to 23 mph, with gusts as high as 34 mph. A wind chill advisory will be in effect in eastern North Carolina until about midday today. Wind chills are expected to be about 5 below zero.
Elizabeth City State University and College of The Albemarle are not affected by the cold weather. Both are still on Christmas break and have not resumed classes.
The expected low temperatures also prompted officials at the local animal shelter to move inside all 130 animals at the shelter on Monday.
Kim Parrish, leader of the SPCA of Northeastern North Carolina, said the shelter’s count Monday evening was 48 dogs and 82 cats.
“We can’t leave 'em out in this mess,” she said.
Parrish said if the SPCA was in its planned new shelter on Enterprise Drive, it would have more room to keep animals out of the elements.
“Right now, we bring 'em in, but we have to basically find spots for them,” including putting up temporary crates, she said. “But, we do it. We’ve done it before when the weather has been bad.”
Parrish said plans call for the SPCA to be in its new shelter within the next 15 months. A building is already in place on the property on Enterprise Drive, but it needs renovating and detached kennels, she said.
She estimates the SPCA needs to raise approximately $48,000 more toward its $331,000 goal to open the new shelter.
The low temperatures aren’t expected to have any major effects on the ongoing bridge and highway construction projects in the Elizabeth City area.
Randy W. Midgett, District 1 engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, said contractors cannot pour concrete if the temperature is below 35 degrees. However, no concrete pours are expected on either the Elizabeth Street restoration project or the Knobbs Creek bridge replacement projects until the end of the week, he said.
In addition, asphalt paving can’t be done when the temperatures are below 40 degrees. But no paving on either project is scheduled in the coming weeks, Midgett said.
“Both contractors plan on working through this cold weather,” Midgett said.
Workers with English Construction building the new Knobbs Creek Bridge weren’t expected at the work site until 9 a.m.