Tupelo, Lee County schools closed today; others dismissing early

news_education_greenUPDATE (4:39p.m.):

• Tupelo schools will resume Wednesday, with the exception of Joyner Elementary, which is located in an area of heavy tornado damage. Superintendent Gearl Loden said he hopes to have Joyner reopened by Monday. He added that any students who can’t make it to school because of tornado damage will be given an excused absence, with a note.

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Some area schools are letting out early today as more bad weather is headed into the area.

• Aberdeen schools will dismiss at 12:30 p.m.

• Alcorn County schools will dismiss at 1:30 p.m.

• Amory schools will dismiss at 12:15 p.m.

• Baldwyn schools and Head Start will dismiss at 12:45 p.m.

• Booneville schools will dismiss at 12:45 p.m.

• Houlka Attendance Center will dismiss at 12:30 p.m.

• Houston schools will dismiss at 12:15 p.m.

• Itawamba Community College will dismiss classes at 2:30 p.m., and all evening classes are canceled. ICC has also canceled the All-American band concert scheduled for tonight.

• Itawamba County schools will dismiss at 12:15 p.m.

• Mississippi State University will close its Starkville and Meridian campuses at 12:30 p.m.

• MSU has postponed its 2014 Volunteer Awards Banquet to May 5 at 6 p.m.

• Monroe County schools will dismiss at 12:45 p.m.

• Nettleton schools will dismiss at 12:30 p.m.

• North Tippah schools will dismiss at 1 p.m.

• Northeast Mississippi Community College will dismiss classes starting at 1:30 p.m. All evening classes for tonight are canceled. All administrative offices will close and begin dismissing at 1:30 p.m.

• Prentiss County schools will dismiss at 12:45 p.m.

• South Tippah schools will dismiss at 12:45 p.m.

• Tishomingo County schools will dismiss at 12:30 p.m.

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By Chris Kieffer

Daily Journal

TUPELO – Schools in Tupelo and Lee County are closed today, as residents begin to heal from a tornado that ripped through the city, as well as the Auburn community.

Tupelo and Lee County school districts, as well as Tupelo Christian Preparatory School – all of which released students early Monday in anticipation of the storm – are closed today. Building principals and maintenance workers in the Tupelo Public School District are asked to report to the Hancock Center at 9 a.m. to begin to assess damage.

The only known damage to Tupelo schools was at Joyner Elementary, where several shingles were blown off the roof and tossed on the ground near the school.

There was at least one hole in the roof, and the metal roof of the wing that stretched to the back of the school looked to be damaged. Many trees were down in front of the school, but none of them fell onto the school. Much of the school’s structure appeared to be intact.

Neighborhoods near Carver Elementary and the Early Childhood Education Center suffered heavy damage, but the schools initially appeared to be OK, Assistant Superintendent Matthew Dillon said. The district will continue to assess its schools today.

Lee County Schools were closed due to power outages, storm damage and the threat of more severe weather. Superintendent Jimmy Weeks said all of the district’s buildings seemed fine. However, roads north of Auburn Baptist Church are blocked and many in Saltillo were still without power on Monday night.

TCPS also appeared to be undamaged, Headmaster Brian Benscoter said.

Many other Northeast Mississippi schools will be open today, but will be monitoring the weather, which could bring more severe storms.

chris.kieffer@journalinc.com