Staffing issues, due to the heavy wet snowfall in Chilliwack, as well as concern for student safety, triggered an early morning change of mind and the closure of the Fraser Cascade School District, Wednesday, January 12.
With light dry snow falling in the upper Fraser Valley, local schools were opening and the buses were ready to roll at 5 a.m., when the call for a ‘Snow Day’ came down from the head of the transportation department.
“Many of our drivers commute in and some weren’t going to make it,” said Dan Landrath, who heads up the transportation department and makes the call on ‘Snow Day’ closures to the superintendent of schools by 6 a.m.
According to Landrath, one of his drivers reported having to battle a five-foot snow drift to get out of his neighbourhood in the Chilliwack region.
And even though all the school bus routes from Agassiz to Boston Bar were cleared by local and highway road crews, the school buses would have been running on compact snow, added Landrath.
After the decision to open the schools was first announced, the calls from teachers and parents started coming into the superintendent of schools, Dr. Karen Nelson.
Just prior to 7 a.m., “we decided to err on the side of caution and close the schools,” said Nelson, at an early morning meeting with staff.
Not only was the change in decision triggered by concern over teachers traveling in from Boston Bar and Abbotsford, but concern over students walking in the middle of streets and standing street-side awaiting the schools buses while snowplows were operating, noted Nelson.