ST. PAUL, Minn. — A local school district and the city’s mayor have apologized to students and parents after a snowstorm caused significant delays in getting students home from school on Monday, stranding many for several hours.
Based on the weather forecast, Saint Paul Public Schools had decided to keep schools open on Monday, according to a news release from the district. Joe Gothard, the superintendent for the district, told Minnesota Public Radio that the decision to cancel school had to be made early in the morning, and he went with the information he had at 5 a.m.
The district added in the release that had it known that the city was going to get up to 8 inches of snow between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m., it “may have taken a different course of action.” About 300 students were stuck on buses or in schools between 10 p.m. and midnight, the district told Minnesota Public Radio.
“We know that it was both a concern and a hardship for those whose children arrived home several hours after the school day had ended,” the district added in the news release. “We are immensely thankful for the staff that remained at the schools to care for our students well into the evening hours.”
Due to Monday’s events and road conditions, the district canceled school and all school-related activities on Tuesday.
In a joint news conference held by the city and the district on Tuesday, Gothard and Mayor Melvin Carter outlined the events that led to the delays, apologized for them, and promised to take action to prevent such incidents going forward.
Carter said that on Monday, the Twin Cities — Minneapolis and St. Paul — experienced the largest snowfall in a single day since 2010, with hundreds of vehicle crashes and spinouts happening all over the state, and hundreds of flights being canceled at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport. He added that in St. Paul, 80 snow plow drivers worked through Monday night to clear major roadways and another 68 worked all day Tuesday to plow residential streets.
“I appreciate the number of streets across our city that are passable this soon after such a major snow storm,” Carter said in the press conference. “Still, several St. Paul families experienced extreme bus delays last night, and for that I am truly sorry.”
The city worked with the school district to reroute snow plows to clear school zones and sent police officers to take children home, Carter said. He also mentioned that neighbors showed up with snow plows to pull school buses out of snow drifts.
“Looking forward, Superintendent Gothard and I will continue to work together to discuss how the city and district staff can work even more closely and apply the lessons learned from this experience to continually improving our joint response to severe weather events like this in the future,” Carter said.
Also during the news conference, Gothard apologized to students and parents for the delays in getting students home safely, and he acknowledged that Monday’s events caused parents anxiety over not knowing when their children would get home.
“It breaks my heart that this happened, and as a parent, I understand your anger and frustration, and I know this was felt for many hours last night,” Gothard said.
He also thanked teachers, bus drivers, support staff, and school leaders for helping to get students home safely, and feeding them and keeping them comfortable and warm while they stayed at school.