After a two week break for the holiday’s, students and staff return to school with a new Superintendent, Brad Jacobs, and a massive snow storm on the way. With the large amounts of snow in mind, the Superintendent and the bus coordinator have to carefully consider the road conditions, white-out conditions and the risk of accidents. With many students driving themselves to school, safe traveling conditions are a concern for school officials. The official decision is usually posted before the buses start their morning pick-up.
“The district roads are checked very early in the morning, around 4:00/4:30 a.m., to see how the conditions are currently. Once those are checked, we will have phone conversations with the county road commission and also superintendents of nearby schools to get their thoughts on whether or not they will cancel, get the roads plowed, etc.,” Jacobs said. “The bottom line is, if we think the roads will be unsafe for buses to drive or if students waiting for a bus could potentially be an unsafe situation, then we will cancel classes for that day.”
On Thursday, January 5, a snow day was called at 7:00 a.m. The busses had already started their morning routes and had begun picking up students.
“Last week, we had a situation where the roads were fine when they were initially checked and then a band of heavy snow and high winds created an unsafe condition for drivers to be out in,” Jacobs said. “We certainly don’t like to cancel school so late, but conditions deteriorated very rapidly, causing us to call buses back and take some students home. We understand that it caused some inconvenience, and we apologize for that, but our bottom line is keeping all kids safe, and we will always err on the side of caution when it comes to that.”
After school was canceled, the main concern was to get students who were already on the bus home safely. Some teachers were even at school preparing for the coming school day. This created issues due to the fact that these teachers then had to drive home with bad road conditions and low visibility.
“It was a surprise but not that big of a deal. It’s happened before a long time ago,” Jill Blaskowski said. “I just stayed until 9, when I could see better and knew the roads would be plowed a bit.”
On Tuesday, January 10, Northern Michigan received a quite a bit of rain, and it was beginning to freeze. During this time a school bus was dropping off kids during their afternoon route and was descending down a hill when the bus driver noticed that there were two cars stuck in the middle of the road. Due to the icy roads, the bus could not come to a complete stop and ended up hitting the two cars. No one was hurt, including all drivers and the 43 students on the bus at the time. School closed before 8 p.m. that evening for the following day knowing that the rain would stop but would continue to freeze overnight. Safety was the biggest concern for everyone that evening.
Tuesday, January 17, and Wednesday, January 18, were both ice days due to the high temperatures along with rain during the day followed by freezing temperatures at night.
The state allows six snow days per school year, and on Wednesday we reached seven. This means we now have to make up a school day. Friday, May 26, will be our first make-up day.