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Frozen pipes impact CNU, Smithfield High; schools still closed

Christopher Newport University students eager to return to campus this week and eat in the new dining hall expansion will have to wait a little longer.

The Regattas Dining Hall expansion, a $9.8 million project, was supposed to be open when classes started Monday. That projected opening date had been bumped from last fall to last November and finally to this week after unexpected underground wiring found at the site knocked the project’s work off schedule.

But a state inspection that was supposed to occur last week was delayed due to the snow that blanketed the Peninsula area with between 5 to 15 inches. The lingering below-freezing temperatures caused a few water pipes to freeze and break, which have to be fixed, said spokesman Tom Kramer.

When it does open — sometime “soon,” Kramer said — students will have more than 200 new seats from which to choose. The addition behind the David Student Union will add a new entrance to the building from the campus’ central Great Lawn and the Mongolian Grill will be relocated into the new facility.

The weather brought a few other challenges to school buildings across the Peninsula area, which were closed to students for four academic days thanks to icy roads.

A pipe on an exterior wall at Smithfield High School burst, Isle of Wight County Schools spokeswoman Lynn Briggs said.

“We have been cleaning up and don’t expect it to cause any issues for students and staff returning,” she said.

A few pipes froze in outside trash can washer areas in York County, said division spokeswoman Katherine Goff. In Williamsburg, Matoaka Elementary School had a “small leak,” but otherwise Williamsburg-James City County Schools fared well, spokeswoman Betsy Overkamp-Smith said.

Otherwise, nothing weather-related impacted buildings or property in Mathews County, York County, Poquoson or Hampton, officials there said. A spokesman for Hampton University said no problems were caused by the weather there.

Even with temperatures well into the high 40s and low 50s Tuesday, melting snow, moisture still standing on roadways could freeze overnight as temperatures dipped below 32.

“Any snow that hasn’t melted could refreeze and stay that way for an hour or two after sunrise,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Bill Sammler. He also said that fog could be an issue Wednesday morning.

Those conditions led Newport News Public Schools, Gloucester County Public Schools, Hampton City Schools, IWCS, W-JCC and YCSD to announce Tuesday afternoon that students would get a fifth snow day.

Mathews County Public Schools planned to operate under a two-hour delay Wednesday morning, with Poquoson City Public Schools utilizing a three-and-a-half hour delay.

“While we know this extended school closure can prove difficult for some families, the safety of our students and staff is our top priority in setting school schedules,” a message from YCSD said. “The division's road assessment team members have traveled dozens of roads throughout the entire county and many roads continue to have icy conditions. Based on the forecasted overnight temperatures, road conditions are not expected to improve sufficiently to allow bus transportation tomorrow.”

Poquoson has planned its first make-up day on Jan. 29. No other make-up plans have been announced, although superintendents in Newport News and Mathews said Tuesday that the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday on Monday would remain a holiday.

For an updated list of cancellations and closings, visit dailypress.com.

Hammond can be reached by phone at 757-247-4951 or on Twitter @byjanehammond.

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