EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

October 28, 2012

Storm plans in high gear

Officials preparing for effects as Sandy closes in

No one knows for sure just how hard the windy wrath of Hurricane Sandy will hit the Merrimack Valley tomorrow morning.

But Methuen School Superintendent Judith A. Scannell didn’t want to take any chances last night for being unprepared for a worst-case scenario. So, she put the city’s school parents on notice with a phone call that went out to 8,630 homes last night that there may not be any school tomorrow and Tuesday.

“Every parent in pre-school through grade 12 received the phone call,” Scannell said in a telephone interview. “I sent the call out for planning purposes, so parents can have a plan B in place for child care.”

Scannell said the question of whether to cancel classes won’t come until early tonight, after she meets with city police, fire and public works officials and the emergency management team. By then, officials will know more on how the hurricane will impact the area.

“I will make a decision after we meet and let the parents know either way whether school is on for Monday or not,” Scannell said.

“It’s all about safety. That’s the number one issue. I’m very concerned about the buses,” she said, noting that several of the schools are in woody areas, where falling tree limbs could cause problems, she said.

It there are no classes, scheduled athletic events will be called off, Scannell said.

Scannell’s concerns are shared by school officials throughout the area as Hurricane Sandy heads toward New England.

“We treat this like we would a snow event,” Lawrence School Superintendent/Receiver Jeffrey C. Riley said last night.

“We’re obviously monitoring the forecast closely, and a decision on closure or delay could come as early as Sunday evening. If not, we’ll have facilities staff on the ground in Lawrence in the early hours before schools open Monday morning to provide us with additional information about conditions. If there is anything to announce, we’ll alert staff and families through our automated phone system, in addition to notifying media,” he said.

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