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July 17, 2012  |   Comments (2)   |   Post a comment

Is your school district prepared for super-fog?

Super-fog is a combination of smoke and early morning water vapor that produces zero visibility over roadways. When it impacts a Florida operation, buses are convoyed out of the terminals until they reach a clear area, and a “pre-warning” procedure is developed.

by Nicole Miller

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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.

After-action procedures
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.

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Read more about: emergency planning, weather

I agree with anonymous. In a case like this, why wouldn't the school use their emergency phone call chain and just delay the start of school. Bad judgement call to put so many lives at risk.

Diane    |    Jul 24, 2012 05:38 AM

I was shocked to read this account. What poor judgement! Every transportation department everywhere should have procedures in place for such an occurrence. I cannot imagine sending school buses out on the road when you literally had to feel your way to the bus. How could you possibly condone putting employees at risk like this? I have asthma, and a simple mask would not do anything to protect me from such conditions. Frankly,I cannot believe Ms. Miller actually had the hutzpah to put this potential disaster in print, and I cannot really understand why School Bus Fleet would print it, either.

Anonymous    |    Jul 23, 2012 11:13 AM

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