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Shelby County Schools cancels Thursday classes due to predicted freezing rain, snow

School buses sit in a yard in winter covered by snow.
Ahead of forecasted freezing rain and snow on Thursday, Shelby County Schools has canceled classes.
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Days after Memphis students returned to school after winter break, classrooms will be closed again Thursday due to hazardous weather conditions, including freezing rain and possibly snow.

Shelby County Schools officials announced the decision, made out of “an abundance of caution,” in a message to families and school staff at about 7 p.m. Wednesday. The state’s largest school district joined most nearby districts such as Germantown, Collierville, and Lakeland, as well as several other districts across middle Tennessee in shuttering classrooms due to weather.

“The safety of our students, families, and school employees is always our top priority, and we have to take all factors into consideration, including accessibility to our schools, along with walking conditions and road hazards,” the district said in the announcement.

The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory that will be in effect across western Tennessee from 3 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday. As of Wednesday night, the agency predicted total snow and sleet accumulations of up to two inches and a light glaze of ice across Shelby County.

The district will not require virtual learning or remote schoolwork.

School-based personnel, including administrators, should not report to Memphis schools on Thursday, district officials said, but rather should “report as directed by their supervisor” in accordance with district policy. District offices will open as usual.

The closure comes as SCS and schools across the U.S. brace for yet another COVID surge, this time fueled by the omicron variant. While Memphis schools have operated as they normally do since students returned from winter break on Monday, some districts — including Detroit and Newark — have been forced to pivot to online learning amid skyrocketing cases, as well as heightened absences among students who have fallen ill and fearful school staff. In Chicago, teachers voted late Wednesday to cancel in-person classes until Jan. 18 or COVID safety conditions improve.

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