Principal: Good communication aided in decision
Doyline School will be closed Monday due to a multi-bodied coordinated plan developed to move more than one million pounds of improperly stored explosive propellant.
The product, which was found by Louisiana State Police earlier this week as a result of a follow up investigation to an Explo Systems, Inc explosion, is scheduled to be moved this weekend.
Residents in and around the town of Doyline are asked to evacuate by Friday evening, Highways 164 and 163 will be closed near Doyline.
Principal Grady Smith said assisting authorities in securing the area is something the school can comply with easily.
"It's not going to affect us too badly," he said. "We do have a game we had to rearrange. Lakeside Junior-Senior High was gracious enough to let us play our three Junior High basketball games against Webster Junior High in their gym Monday night."
Students will need to provide their own transportation to the game, because Doyline School will not be able to bus students that evening.
"If this had been scheduled for Friday, it might have been a bit worse, but Monday there is not much going on that can't be easily rearranged," Smith said. "Most people are concerned about their own houses and their safety. With those concerns in mind, there is nothing we can't adjust to as a school to do our part in the evacuation."
Smith said there has been great communication between the public bodies involved with the evacuation and school closure.
"Our Safety Supervisor, Buster Flowers, Superintendent Dozier and the sheriff's office – everyone has been on the same page in trying to make sure everyone is safe," he said. "If everyone stays calm and does things in an orderly fashion, I think it's going to work out just fine."
Smith lives just a few miles from Camp Minden, along U.S. Hwy 80 but is not affected by the evacuation.
"I've grown up with this and the shell plant all my life, like most people around the area," he said. "It's a blessing that my family can stay at home and are not being asked to evacuate, but we will still be on the look out and remain cautious.
"We all know what the last big boom felt like," he continued. "So our eyes and ears are open, and we are prepared for the worst. We don't want to take this lightly at all."
Last night an automated call from Smith's office went out to Doyline School's parents.
"I wanted them to hear from me and let them know that school will be out Monday and pay attention to local media to get further instruction on what to do with their personal safety, and encourage them to be safe and cautious with the decisions they make," he said.
Webster Parish schools have two days built into the school calendar for emergency closures, which may typically be weather related.
"One was used for the hurricane and so Doyline will use the second day during Monday's closure," Smith said. "As of right now, the last day of school will not be affected at Doyline."
However, if the school loses another day of class time due to a closure, they may see additional classroom time added to the school year to make up for the loss.