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HomeNewsSchool Buses (Mostly) Chug Along in 'Alberta Clipper'

School Buses (Mostly) Chug Along in ‘Alberta Clipper’

Despite temperatures dipping as far as 30 and 40 degrees below zero in the upper Midwest and Great Plains, frigid winds and feet of snow, many school districts from Minnesota to Florida remained open.

And while there were plenty of school closures, elsewhere, such as in Brainerd, Minnesota, school buses were in operation to transport students to open schools. Kala Henkensiefken, director of transportation at Brainerd Public Schools, told STN that school buses ran on time with no mechanical issues even though more than 300 schools across the state closed their doors or started hours later. Additionally, she said neighboring districts ran on time with no reported issues.

“Our amazing drivers never missed a beat,” she said via email.

Henkensiefken added that Brainerd’s director of schools received phone calls from a halfdozen families who complained that the district should have closed or started late because of the wind chill.

“Once he talked them through our process, they were understanding and agreed that we made the right decision,” she said.

The district’s fleet consists of diesel buses and those that run on a biodiesel blend.

Many districts across Chicagoland were also closed Thursday, but bus contractor Cook-Illinois Corporation said they were up and running without hitches. John Benish, Jr., COO at Cook-Illinois, reported an early morning temperature of -12, but the diesel buses turned over without a problem, thanks to a wintry dose of a “secret family recipe” fuel additive to prevent gelling.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Baltimore City Public Schools apologized to parents for a normal school day despite temperatures below freezing that led several other local school districts to close for the day. The area saw more than 100 accidents on roadways.

“Very early this morning, we considered the current conditions and the morning forecast, we conferred with city officials, and we made a decision to open on schedule,” wrote Dr. Gregory Thornton, CEO of the school district. “I want to apologize to the students, families, and staff members who experienced difficult travel conditions this morning, but I also want to thank the thousands of teachers, school leaders, and students who attended today for their commitment to teaching and learning.”

Still, many more districts like those in Detroit closed outright, while others like in Catoosa County, Georgia opened late as temperatures fell into single digits or below zero. And in many more places, including Pennsylvania, traffic snarled due to icy conditions. Winnipeg, Manitoba, right next door to where the storm originated, saw many school closures as well.

The wintery blast is expected to carry though the weekend.

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