school bus stock

Advocate file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

Public school students St. John the Baptist Parish will get another day off Friday thanks to freezing temperatures, with officials citing problems keeping water pressure in the parish high enough. 

Meanwhile, Jefferson Parish Public Schools will reopen Friday after campus heating systems were inspected and found to be working, officials said Thursday afternoon.

Officials with the local school district said pressure has been too low to keep heating systems going at several campuses, which use boiler systems. The water pressure is also preventing restrooms and other facilities from properly functioning.

Parish President Natalie Robottom's administration said the local potable water systems are operating at "high demand" as a result of water leaks and dripping faucets. 

Over the past two days residents have reported more than 50 leaking or ruptured pipes, caused by several nights with freezing temperatures, according to Baileigh Rebowe, a parish spokeswoman.

Rebowe said residents in Reserve, Garyville and Mt. Airy -- in total about 4,900 water customers -- are under a boil water advisory because of the drop in pressure.

Officials are urging residents to conserve water by only running faucets to prevent frozen or ruptured pipes if necessary and only when temperatures reach below freezing. They're asking that locals wrap their pipes to prevent leaks and bursts caused by plunging temperatures.

Residents were also urged to refrain from washing their cars, using a washing machine or running dishwashers.

"It is critical that all residents parishwide begin conserving water immediately," parish officials said in a news release, adding that forecasts show more freezing temperatures Thursday night. 

Parish officials anticipate the water pressure problems will be resolved once the weather warms, which is forecasted to happen over the weekend.

Maintenance employees, head custodians at all schools and all Lake Pontchartrain Elementary staff were still asked to report to work on Friday.

Officials said recreational activities at the Regala Gym in Reserve were also cancelled, but that the local courthouse in Edgard and the Percy Hebert Government Building in LaPlace remained open.

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