The Friday Letter
Winter weather conditions and school go hand in hand, but this week is much colder than most. Over the last several years, we have had a day or two in which the temperature dips down to around -20° at night, but these have been few and far between.
Buses running or not?
Three years ago we changed our policy on running buses when the temperature was -30° to -20° (in town). There were a couple reasons for changing the policy. First was the temperature outside the city limits always seemed to be colder. If the bus was west of town by the river, it might be 5° colder or more than in town, which would mean it was much colder than -30°. The second reason was the new emission standards on the buses. The new buses we have purchased must get the exhaust system to a certain temperature and when that temperature is reached, the pollutants are blown through a honeycombed filter in the exhaust pipe. However, if the exhaust system can’t get to the proper temperature, the computer system on the bus can actually shut the bus down. Something we would never want to happen while transporting students.
One driver is assigned to call me at 5:30 in the morning to visit about the temperature at their house and the temperature in town. Again, this temperature can vary depending on the thermometer and location throughout the school district, but we operate on the temperature in town. If it is -20° in town then the decision to not run the buses is made.
There are times, like this week, in which one or more buses simply won’t start. If that is the case then the route will not be served in the morning. The drivers also have the right to cancel their route depending on how their bus is running, blowing and drifting snow, etc. We always try to error on the side of caution and never want to have students on the bus if the driver is not comfortable with the weather conditions.
Anyone who has a student attending Roundup Public Schools has probably received an automated notice at some point from the school. This system is also used if a bus or buses are not running. If only one bus is not running, then only the households on that particular route will be notified. If all buses are not running then notification will be sent to all households with bus students.
Proper Winter Clothing
It is very important to have students dressed properly for the weather. It doesn’t matter that they are on the bus. The bus will never be real warm on these days, and if the bus was to breakdown, it would only take a couple minutes for the temperature in the bus to drop. Elementary students do go out to recess if it is above zero, and many junior senior high school students walk to the elementary for lunch.
Typically, school is still in session when the buses don’t run. Our hope is that most of the bus students would still be able to get to town and we would run all bus routes in the afternoon. Students living in town should also be able to get to school without or only slight delays.