With Warren County Schools going over the number of snow days that were set aside last year, a plan is being examined that would allow schools to be open on marginal days where most roads are passable.
“We’ve been looking at snow routes,” said Sherry Lane of Durham School Services to the Board of Education during its most recent meeting.
Durham School Services contracts with the county to operate school buses here. Lane was at the meeting to report the state of the bus service and to inform School Board members about the use of snow routes during the winter.
Last school year, Warren County sat aside nine days dedicated to bad weather. Two other days that had formerly been used as snow days were used to offset late-start Thursdays, a day teachers met for in-service training on Common Core. The nine stockpiled days ended up not being enough as schools used their allotted snow days plus one of the late-start days and still had to add a day to the end of the school year.
Given the unpredictability of winter, Durham Services has begun looking at an alter-native that is used by many other school systems to keep schools in session on some of the lighter snow days. Last year, five of the days were used in cases where the vast majority of Warren County roads were easily passable and in many cases completely dry. The issue that cancelled schools on those days had to do with rural secondary roads, some on the mountains that ring the frontier of the county and some that are in constant shadow and are slow to thaw.
“Some of those days were questionable days where most of the routes were open,” Lane said. She noted it would have still be dangerous for bus drivers to risk going down hazardous patches of road. “Safety is our first priority.”
With that in mind, Lane said Durham is using the summer to figure out snow routes to circumvent problem areas that force closure on marginal days.
“We can run snow routes and have school on those days,” Lane said.
Snow routes would take on different forms. In some cases it might require a student to meet the bus at a different location while in others it might be that the bus would take a different route to pick up the student.
Members of the Board of Education commended the work being done by Durham. There are no plans to change the number of snow days for the coming year.