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Most Students Back in Class After Earthquake Projection

December 6, 1990

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ Most students and teachers in the New Madrid Fault region were back in classrooms Wednesday after a two-day earthquake break called by officials responding to a scientist’s prediction.

New Mexico scientist Iben Browning projected a 50 percent chance for a major earthquake this week along the fault, which runs from Cairo, Ill., to Marked Tree, Ark.

Earthquake experts scoffed at Browning’s projection, which he based on tidal forces, but school officials throughout southeast Missouri and parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana canceled classes.

Some school districts that did not cancel classes reported absentee rates as high as 50 percent Monday.

Things were pretty much back to normal Wednesday and most students were back in school. But Missouri’s Scott County Central School District didn’t plan to re-open until Thursday.

″When you’re going to have problems with your attendance, you might as well not have school,″ said Superintendent W. Ray Shoaf.

Dick Hilburn, assistant superintendent of schools in Kennett, said he didn’t notice any lingering earhquake fears Wednesday.

″If there are, I can’t tell it,″ he said. ″From what I can tell, things are going about like normal. Attendance is almost normal at the high school, which I think is a pretty good gauge.″

Some school officials blamed the media for exaggerating the earthquake scare.

″I think they got snowed,″ Jim Mauk, business manager for the New Madrid County Schools, said of the media. ″Browning made the projection, but he’s not the one who hyped it.″