The Cold Never Bothered 501 Anyway

School Remains Open Despite Ice Storm

Bannon Beall and Philip Canady

Slippery roads and frozen car doors didn’t keep TPS 501 staff and students from showing up to school on this icy Tuesday morning —  at least for the most part.

TPS 501 has had two snow days so far in the 2017-18 school year, one due to extreme cold and the other due to snow and ice causing roads to be unsafe. Some students and teachers at the school have expressed concerns about the district’s decision not to cancel school for Tuesday, despite an early morning ice storm.

Jillian Mongold, senior, is a student driver who had to take her younger siblings to school this morning.

“[Driving this morning] was horrible, really icy, I was slipping and sliding everywhere and I was scared that someone else was going to run into me. I had to drop my siblings off at school so I was worried about their safety. I couldn’t take the highway because I didn’t trust it,” said Mongold. “I live 25 minutes away from the school.”

Math teacher Clare Kwan commutes from Lawrence for work every morning and had a difficult time on the icy roads today, causing her to be a few minutes late for school.

“It was kind of nerve-wracking, I definitely thought about turning around and going back but there wasn’t really anywhere to get off the highway until I was pretty close so I just came in,” said Kwan. “I’m lucky and I have a garage so I didn’t really have trouble leaving but as I was driving my windshield was fogging and frosting over at the same time so it was really hard to see, I had to pull over for a while.”

According to the WIBW closings and cancellations list, there are 38 school districts in the region closed for  Tuesday. There are also closings and postponed openings on college campuses in the area,  including but not limited to The University of Kansas, Allen County Community College, and Emporia State University.

Cheryl Barb-Tollett, a math teacher, lives in Emporia, where the university campus was closed for the entire day due to the weather conditions. She experienced dangerous driving conditions and feared for her life on her commute to school.

“Three miles south of the exit when I’m passing a semi-truck, I’m fishtailing, I’m literally fishtailing beside a semi-truck on the turnpike. I just get off the gas and as I’m still fishtailing I’m thinking ‘this is my last day on Earth,’” said Barb-Tollett.

As an apparent compromise for the concerned parties, TPS 501 announced that all tardies and absences in the district would be excused all day Tuesday.


A tweet from Topeka Public Schools that confirmed the day’s attendance policy.

Mongold felt that this measure was not enough and that the district should have canceled school.

“Honestly, 501 never cancels so I don’t necessarily know why [school wasn’t canceled], but it sometimes feels like they don’t care about our safety or our time,” said Mongold. “They might have thought they were doing something with the excused absences and tardies, but with some of our parents if we have school we’re going to be forced to come here no matter what.”