Several concerns remain for students commuting to school

Jessica Schladebeck
York Academy student Chantelly Caceres, 7, walks home from school along N. Beaver St, Thursday January 28, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

Over the past few days, students have slowly been making their way back to the classroom after Winter Storm Jonas trapped most York County residents indoors.

While the height of the record-breaking snowfall is beginning to drop, many school districts will continue to operate only after two-hour delays, with officials citing dangerous commuting conditions as the primary cause.

Buses and drivers: One of the biggest issues in the commute for buses to and from school has been maneuvering through narrow intersections, said Lori Stine, the transportation coordinator at Spring Grove Area School District.

"We haven't had any major issues other than a couple intersections being a little tight," she said. "The snow hasn't been cleared all the way back in some areas, and that can be a challenge for buses, being that they're obviously larger vehicles."

Stine also noted the two-hour delays are of benefit because there are fewer cars on the road during the morning drive, making it easier for the buses to navigate roads that may be tighter than usual or are down to one lane.

"Drivers should be patient when they see a bus," she said. "If you see a bus on a road where things are little skinnier, just know that it's way easier for a car to back up or pull into a driveway than it is for a bus."

She added that drivers should always be aware of a bus' flashing lights and requested motorists give the buses a little extra room when possible.

Stop changes: Students who can't get to their bus stop location because of snow should stand at the closest location that is safe — preferably a cleared sidewalk or driveway, said Red Lion Area School District Superintendent Scott Deisley in an email.

"We have instructed bus drivers to be extra alert for kids who are waiting near a stop, and to be patient as kids may need to walk a little farther to get to the bus," he said.

Stine said the buses at Spring Grove have been operating under a similar strategy, which has been working well.

"We’ve told all of our parents that we would be accommodating because some people still aren't plowed out," she said. "We just adjusted our stops based on where our students reside. Our drivers are being very proactive, they know who their students are, and they know to stop."

Deisley said those unable to get to their bus stop or make the commute can request an excused absence.

Snow mountains: Deisley warned that the giant mountains of snow that have accumulated as a result of snow cleanup will limit visibility for drivers. Those traveling during standard school commuting times should take it slow and keep an eye out for students who are walking.

"Until the remnants of this storm melt away, we all have to deal with large piles of snow, low visibility and the possibility of icy roads in the morning," he said.

Deisley advised students who walk to stick to shoveled paths as best they can and to avoid streets whenever possible.

Montika Smith, 11, leads sister Sonjai, 9, through the snow as brother Halman, 17, keeps a close eye on them while walking home from Logos Academy, Thursday January 28, 2016. John A. Pavoncello photo

"While we have cleared the school grounds enough to reopen, we have heard that there may be some streets that are not shoveled," he said, noting students should "take extra caution at intersections where it is hard to see traffic."

On the bright side, the piles of snow are less of an issue for bus drivers, Stine said.

"Buses sit a little higher so they have a little bit more visibility," she said.

Delays: The following school districts have announced they will begin after a two-hour delay on Friday:

  • Central York School District
  • Dallastown Area School District
  • Dover Area School District
  • Eastern York School District
  • Northeastern School District
  • Red Lion Area School District
  • Southern York County School District
  • York County School of Technology

— Reach Jessica Schladebeck at