While a West Monroe contractor prepares to repair the heating system at Delta Magnet School, parents are continuing to keep their children away from school again.

The Morehouse Parish School Board declared a state of emergency Tuesday night and then approved a $55,545 contract with Byrnes Mechanical of West Monroe to repair pipes designed to circulate warm water throughout the building that are leaking and have created pools adjacent to the building where steam was rising as temperatures Wednesday climbed above freezing for the first time in 48 hours.

Water that circulates throughout the building is warmed in a structure just outside the classrooms building. Superintendent Dr. George Noflin Jr. said pipes that are at least 20 years have developed leaks.

“We declared the state of emergency not because of the cold conditions but because money for projects like this weren’t included in the budget,” Noflin said.

Delta principal Cynthia Clark said parents began checking students out of school yesterday and that many of those students didn’t return today.

Tasha Battle came to the school just after 10 a.m. Wednesday to check out her daughter, Taraji.

“She hasn’t been feeling well and doesn’t need to be in continued cold like this,” Battle said.

Principal David Nordman said conditions at Bastrop High School were vastly improved over Tuesday.

“The halls are still cool, but the classrooms are warmer,” Nordman said. “We’re still having them stay in the cafeteria or in the gymnasium rather than allowing prolonged exposure to the cold,” Nordman said.

Conditions at the high school were created by a technological glitch that prevented the heating system from coming back on in time to heat the building for the two-week Christmas break.

Exact attendance figures were not available, but Nordman said a survey of the parking lot yesterday showed it was significant.

“We serve as sort of a transportation hub and generally have 15-20 buses come here to move students around the parish,” Nordman said. “(Tuesday) it seemed like some of those buses that are generally full only had a handful of students on them.”