Super-fog took place for two mornings due to a fire located near the compound. The second day, visibility conditions at the terminal were better; however, down the road, we encountered super-fog grounding a high school bus for two hours and preventing the elementary and middle school buses from entering the area. We were able to contact parents via telephone to inform them that the school buses were not going to be able to run in their area due to zero visibility. We also said that a list of students affected by this would be sent to the school to excuse their tardiness in case the parents took them into school, and we assured them we would be able to bring them home. Parents were very accommodating and understanding.
Due to the seriousness of this event, an “after action” report was written. It was decided that a super-fog procedure would be made for the protection of our employees and students, and it would entail a “pre-warning.” The pre-warning will be a letter to parents/guardians at the beginning of each school year advising them that if we should ever encounter a super-fog condition, they will be notified by an automated telephone message to inform them if Volusia County will be delaying or canceling the morning pickup because of zero visibility in the area.
School buses are the safest means of transportation for our students. It’s the district’s responsibility to ensure they only operate on public roadways when it is safe to do so.
How would you handle a similar situation? Are you prepared for super-fog? These are realities in our business and require pre-planning. Ask yourself, “What would I do?” Plan, communicate, practice, then practice again.
Nicole Miller is the area operations manager at Volusia County Schools’ student transportation services department. She oversees 42 school bus routes, manages 72 employees and serves 13 schools.