Local school districts preparing for winter
YAKIMA, Wash.- Minimizing the amount of school closures, as well as ensuring students and staff's safety are the main challenges all schools face during the winter.
Transportation employees say road conditions are the determining factor in school closures. Debbie Heide is the Transportation Director at Selah School District and says she gets up at 3 a.m. to check how icy the roadways are.
"I start driving on all the roads where we have difficult hills and difficult stops. I also watch for the city trucks to be coming out and sanding and the county trucks," said Heide.
Transportation departments from all school districts met to ensure that each bus is winter ready and regular school routes are altered to avoid hills.
"We already had our drivers meeting where we chained every single bus to make sure everything is ready to go and that our tires are in shape and that our instant chains are working," said Heide.
Transportation Director at West Valley April Heiser says West Valley students are on the bus anywhere from 30 minutes to an an hour and a half in non-snowy conditions, and even longer during winter.
"Because of the rural areas that we drive in, our elevation we go all the way to 35,000 feet. So we get a lot of snow and ice out in our district," said Heiser.
To prepare for these conditions, instant chains mounted on each bus. Each transportation director says they've only had a handful of delays last year due to buses being properly equipped. Heide encourages students to ride the bus to school when it starts snowing.
"We know that we have high school kids driving out to school, and we also know that we have a lot a kids on the road walking. I've instructed my drivers if they see kids walking to school, if they can stop and pick them up to go ahead and do that. We also let parents know that if they have a high schooler that drives, they're more than welcome to hop on the bus with us, they're a lot safer to be on the bus," said Heide.
Director of Technology for Selah School District, Greg Sugden, says Selah School District residents can check school closure and delay updates by calling their winter weather line at 509-698-8080. The line plays in English and Spanish.
Sugden says family's can also receive updates by making sure the school district has their current email and phone number and will send weather alert notifications. Also, you can download the Selah School District app and get push notifications through your mobile device. Lastly, you can visit their website.
Assistant Superintendent at West Valley School District, Peter Finch, says family's can receive alerts by going to their website, and signing up for their Flash Alert System.