Many parts of the U.S. and Canada have been hit with unforgiving weather conditions and frigid temperatures this week, and they’re impacting pupil transportation operations, causing school closures and delayed starts.
In Greeley, Colo., the temperature fell to -17 F on Monday, forcing Greeley-Evans School District 6 to close schools for the day because many of the buses in the district’s fleet wouldn’t stay running.
The Tribune reports that the below freezing temperature caused the diesel fuel in the buses to thicken. Theresa Myers, director of communication for the district, told the newspaper that the buses would “cut out when the fuel got to the pump and then, as drivers tried to get them started again, the batteries died.” The district does not have any spare buses.
Kansas City (Kan.) Public Schools experienced similar issues on Tuesday morning. Many of the district’s buses wouldn’t start and couldn’t be refueled. Director of Transportation Lenora Miller told KCTV that the diesel had turned “from a liquid to like a gel” and the oil was “more like honey as opposed to water.” On the district’s natural gas-powered buses, both compressors used to fuel them blew seals.
All but two of the district’s buses were running by Tuesday afternoon, and students were expected to be back in school by Wednesday.
On the East Coast, the cold weather caused delayed school start times at North Carolina’s Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Students and teachers were on a two-hour delay on Tuesday morning to allow the transportation department more time to prepare the district’s school buses. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, maintenance personnel were out in the 7-degree weather starting the buses and checking for weather-related problems. Several needed a jump start, and frozen air lines on others needed to be addressed.
The bus drivers were also asked to arrive 15 minutes early to ensure that their routes were on time and that students were not left waiting at bus stops any longer than necessary.
The cold snap has caused school bus cancellations throughout the Canadian province of Ontario every day so far this week. CTV News reports that school buses and taxis serving schools in Dufferin County, Centre and North Wellington in the Upper Grand District School Board were cancelled on Wednesday, and bus routes in Oxford, Middlesex, Elgin and Essex counties were also cancelled for the day.
In Warman, Saskatchewan, Prairie Spirit School Division No. 206 reported in a statement on its website on Wednesday that 12 buses would either not be operating at all or would not be operating on their morning routes only. In addition, because the temperature was -38 C (-36.4 F), the wheelchair lifts on some buses could not be operated.
Other items related to winter weather:
• Photo gallery: Pupil Transporters Capture Winter Weather
• Hydrotex issues tips to prevent fuel problems in winter