Pocahontas to Implement Snow Routes for School Busses
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In an effort to minimize the number of days schools are closed for snow events, the Pocahontas County Schools are implementing snow routes for their buses. Snow routes will only be placed into effect when there are school opening delays of 2 or 3 hours, although not all delays will require the use of snow routes. Ruth Bland, the Transportation Director for the Schools explains just what will happen when snow routes are used.
“Every one of our drivers has a snow route for their routes” said Ruth. “Most of the snow routes entail not traveling on roads that are not marked by the Department of Highways. So if there is not a center line or the white lines on the outside of the road than the buses will not be traveling up those roads for a snow route. They will be travelling the main roads, and we will have meeting spots along the way for the parents to meet the bus.”
Snow routes are new to the County, as Ruth says.
They have not been implemented in the past when we have had inclement weather” says Ruth. “And of course as with any new program you come up with, you may end up with a few snafus along the way. So, it’s going to be an experimentation year to see how it works out. It is something to try to see if we cannot have to make up 17 days of school like we did before.”
So now parents will have to listen more carefully to the school phone messages or announcements on the radio on snowy mornings since there are more options possible, as Ruth explains.
“There is a number of different options that we have” Ruth says. “It could be a call in the morning saying there is no school altogether, it could be a 2 hour delay with regular bus routes. It could be a 3 hour delay with regular bus routes, and it could be a 2 hour delay with snow routes. It could be a 3 hour delay with snow routes.”
Of course even after announcing a delay with or without snow routes, things might still change, as Ruth points out.
“So we may call in the morning on our school messenger program and say it’s a 2 hour delay with snow routes” Ruth said. “And, eventually we may call off school.”
Ruth wanted to assure parents that these buses are able to run safely in snow conditions. Ruth.
“Folks also have to understand that a school bus is much different than a car, much different than a trailer truck” Ruth says. “School buses are built to be able to run in the snow. We have drop down chains on our busses. We also have full sets of chains on our buses, so if the bus drivers have to stop and chain up they have enough chains for all of their wheels.”
Ruth points out that as Transportation Director she depends on information from the community.
“We need to enlist the help of the public” Ruth said. “And let me tell you! It’s not just the parents who have children on those buses, I have folks in the community who don’t have children in the schools, and they tell me about the road conditions and they say ‘the bus went by, it’s running about 5 minutes late’ – even the folks that are retired – you can set your clock to our buses- they are very great observers of what is going on in our community. You know, that’s great for us too because it protects our kids when there is somebody else out there watching (out for) our kids.”
Ruth has one last important thing to point out to parents.
“Parents need to know, if they think it is too dangerous for their child to travel on that bus to go to school they don’t have to send their child” said Ruth. “It will be an excused absence. Parents must write an excuse and turn it in to the school. But we don’t want them taking advantage of that also, because we will look for patterns of that. It is always up to the parent. It is also up to the bus driver. If the bus driver feels it is too dangerous to run, he will call me and say ‘I cannot make my run.”