Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Concern for Safety Shutters Campuses; FERGUSON DECISION: SCHOOL CLOSINGS

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Concern for Safety Shutters Campuses; FERGUSON DECISION: SCHOOL CLOSINGS

Article excerpt

Children in a number of area school districts are at home today as their districts brace for the public's response to the decision not to indict a police officer in the shooting death of Michael Brown.

The four school districts in Ferguson - Hazelwood, Ferguson- Florissant, Jennings and Riverview Gardens - called off school, as did Normandy and Clayton schools. St. Louis Public Schools, which has an elementary school near where demonstrations have been held in the Shaw neighborhood, also canceled classes.

Some of the decisions were made even before the announcement came.

"We feel that it will be best to have students and staff at their homes instead of at school," said a statement posted on the Clayton School District website.

It was a sentiment shared by school districts nearest the unrest in Ferguson, where the initial conflict between protesters and police also resulted in lost days of school in August. On Aug. 9, Officer Darren Wilson fatally shot Brown, 18, sparking protests that have continued since.

School officials aren't concerned about student safety inside the buildings, but on streets near some of them. District representatives from several north St. Louis County districts said closing school was among the options discussed at a recent meeting with law enforcement officials. Closure would keep buses and excess traffic off streets in the event of unrest.

A coalition of 11 churches in north St. Louis County are partnering with the Ferguson-Florissant and Riverview Gardens school districts, pledging to provide support to children and families.

As it did in August, the Ferguson Library on North Florissant Road will provide space for teachers and children in the Ferguson- Florissant School District to do learning activities.

"As long as it's safe for patrons and staff, we will be doing that," said library director Scott Bonner.

In Jennings, the school district will still provide breakfast and lunch at Woodland Elementary and at the high school. …

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