School districts rely on road assessments to determine safety
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) — While many Central Oregonians were out enjoying several inches of Sunday snowfall, school districts across the High Desert were faced with the decision to cancel, delay or hold Monday classes as scheduled, a familiar process from past winters.
After Bend-La Pine Schools’ team of six drivers assessed roads across the school district, all the way from Gilchrist to Redmond, starting at 4 a.m. Monday, district officials decided it was best to keep schools open.
“They drive our city streets, they drive major roadways, they look at some pathways, and they determine, you know, ‘Do we feel like these streets are safe for passenger vehicles?'” Assistant Communications Director Alandra Johnson said Monday,
While some parents and others were critical of the decision, due to road conditions in places, the school district said they saw no significant drop in attendance Monday. Compared to a week ago, Johnson said there was less than a 1% change.
The district, like others, plans to assess roads again Tuesday morning before again making the call.
However, several parents shared concerns about the district’s decision on the Bend La-Pine Schools Facebook page.
Some said residential streets hadn’t been plowed and the roads were too slick, making them too unsafe. Others supported the district’s call for classes, saying most roads had been cleared and there are a number of ways to properly prepare for driving in the snow.
One person pointed to distance learning as a good alternative on snowy days. But as of now, school districts are not looking to distance learning as an option.
The Crook County School District changed its plans Monday morning, from a two-hour delay to canceling Monday classes altogether. They made the announcement around 7:30 Monday morning.
School district Director of Communications Jason Carr said, “We had hoped by declaring a two-hour delay last night, the road crews would have time to clear those roads.”
But after a road assessment, Carr said many students might not have been able to get to school safely and on time.
Carr note that areas of Prineville received about three to five inches of snow, while some outlying areas like Powell Butte and Juniper Canyon received anywhere from eight inches to a foot.
“That really impacted some of those main and side roads our buses utilize,” Carr said.
The Crook County district hopes to be able to resume classes Tuesday.
Both the Jefferson County and Redmond School District say they’re likely to open classes Tuesday as well, but that decision will ultimately be determined through the daily road assessments.
The post Bend-La Pine Schools explain decision to hold Monday classes as heavy snow prompts others to cancel appeared first on KTVZ.