At least 10 school districts have canceled Thursday classes because of a boil order and the cold temperatures expected for the area.
Belleville District 201, East St. Louis District 189, East Alton-Wood River District 14, East Alton District 13, Edwardsville District 7, Collinsville Unit 10, Granite City District 9, Alton District 11 and Bethalto District 8 schools will be closed due to the forecast for southern Illinois. The National Weather Service said Thursday could bring wind chills of 15 to 20 degrees below zero.
Elsewhere in the metro-east, Cahokia District 187 decided to close Thursday due to a boil order from Illinois American Water. The recent cold weather has been causing water main breaks, which is the reason for the boil order. It’s affecting portions of St. Clair and Monroe counties.
Karen Cotton, the external affairs manager for Illinois American Water, said boil orders usually last 36 to 48 hours, and that customers would be notified when it’s lifted.
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Several school districts in the affected areas were still closed for winter break when the boil order was issued Wednesday, including: Belleville 201, Cahokia 187, Central 104, Columbia 4, Grant 110, Harmony 175, Millstadt 160, O’Fallon 90, O’Fallon 203, Pontiac 105 and Wolf Branch 113.
Pontiac 105 will remain closed until Monday for its break, and Harmony 175 will remain closed Thursday. The rest were scheduled to reopen Thursday.
Water shouldn’t be used for cooking or drinking during a boil order unless it has been boiled for 5 minutes. Some districts, like Belle Valley 119, were boiling water in advance to be able to prepare food Thursday.
Belle Valley also purchased enough bottled water for students to drink the rest of the week if the order isn’t lifted, according to District 119 Superintendent R.Dane Gale.
Leaders in Belleville District 118, Whiteside District 115 and High Mount District 116 also said they purchased some bottled water and encouraged parents to send their student to school with a bottle of water if they were able.
District 118 Superintendent Matt Klosterman said any water used to prepare food for student lunches is boiled. The district’s food service workers provide meals for other area schools, including Whiteside and High Mount.
It’s OK for students and staff to wash their hands or use the bathroom during a boil order. But district officials were watching the water pressure Wednesday. If the pressure gets too low, the bathrooms can’t be used.
Superintendent Dale Sauer said if that happened in Shiloh District 85, the administration would likely cancel classes.
District 116 Superintendent Mark Halwachs said High Mount School leaders would also be looking at their options if water pressure closes bathrooms.
When Belleville District 201 officials were deciding Wednesday whether to cancel Thursday classes, they considered the combination of cold temperatures and the boil order, according to a post on social media.
“We are currently experiencing reduced water pressure at one of our facilities, which impacts several building functions at schools the size of East and West,” the post stated.