Griffin monitoring Isaac’s path

As the tropical storm system that is Isaac makes its way toward the Gulf Coast, school systems in the south portion of the state are bracing for potential impact.

Demopolis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Al Griffin said he is keeping a close watch on the storm’s movement and the numerous models intended to project the storm’s potential path.

“I’m watching it hour on hour,” Griffin said. “The latest projection had it moving westerly, which would put Demopolis and this area on the east side of it and that is where you get a lot rain and high winds.”

If that projection is accurate, Demopolis would fall into a cone of uncertainty that would leave it susceptible to heavy rainfall, high winds and possible tornadic activity.

Such weather occurrences would give rise to the possibility of missed class time. Exactly what that missed class time would mean to an already crammed academic calendar remains to be seen.

“This is a novice reader’s analysis of the new Flexible Calendar bill that we are currently under that says you can’t start school before two Mondays before Labor Day. This is my understanding,” Griffin said, offering his interpretation of the act passed by the Alabama State Legislature earlier this year. “If the governor declares a state of emergency on, let’s just say Wednesday, we would be out of school Wednesday and we would not have to make it up. I believe that is the truth.”

If Griffin’s assessment of the bill is correct, affected school systems could be spared the grief of trying to make up a lost school day when the governor declares a state of emergency. The more difficult scenario would be when each school system has to, at a local level, make the call about whether or not to have classes.

“Let’s just say the governor does not declare a state of emergency, but about 4 o’clock Wednesday morning I see we are having 60 mph winds and two-thirds of the town are without power, I would have to make that call and we would have to make that day up,” Griffin said.

While all of the possibilities are still hypotheticals, Griffin indicated that Demopolis students would likely be in session Labor Day if Isaac forces school closures in the city that are not brought about by the declaration of a state of emergency.

“We would probably make it up on Labor Day, as unpopular as that may be,” Griffin said. “A lot of school systems are going Labor Day anyway.”

The greatest concern for Griffin in terms of how the storm may affect the school calendar is that Demopolis may fall into the latter scenario.

“My concern is, let’s say that it drifts westerly and a lot of Alabama is going to get spared but we’re over here on the east end (of the storm) where we could get pounded and have to take a day off school and not have the declared state of emergency and have to make it up,” Griffin said.

While Isaac has yet to make its path apparent, Griffin is hopeful that he and DCS board members will have enough information to make a decision about potential school closures by Tuesday.