Local school leaders preparing for snowfall during morning commute

By Tara Morgan - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - VDOT and local school leaders are preparing for what could be a dicey morning commute Thursday.

School officials have been in talks with their transportation staff. You'll recall, some school districts were criticized two weeks ago for late decisions on school closures when a storm hit during the morning commute. The plan is to make such decisions about Thursday in a timely manner.

When it comes to her precious cargo, Kelley Olds hopes a decision about school closings isn't taken lightly.

"I just think that if the roads are not safe, those kids should not get on the school buses," said Olds.

Back on February 10, school buses picked up and dropped off students during near white out conditions. All three districts first announced delays, then decided to close, but it was too late.

Henrico schools later apologized and is planning early for this next go-around with mother nature. Chesterfield schools is also keeping close tabs on the forecast.

"We know the decision we make at the time needs to be sooner than later," said Chesterfield Schools Spokesman Shawn Smith.

A decision that impacts some 68,000 students and staff in Chesterfield county alone. Road conditions can vary from one part of the county to the next.

Wednesday night the roads were already slick. VDOT couldn't pretreat the roads because of the rain but during the snow storm it will put down salt and abrasives to help provide traction.

"Our transportation officials will be out on the roads as early as three and four o'clock in the morning checking the roads themselves. We'll even put some of the buses on the roads very early in the morning," said Smith.

Olds says she understands it's a big job.

"Those buses, they have a lot of kids to transport; big huge buses and the roads can be slippery. The kids safety has to be paramount I think, said Olds.

During winter weather conditions, Chesterfield school officials also make sure school parking lots and sidewalks are clear for students and staff. As far as Richmond, we did not hear back from school officials.

Copyright 2010 WWBT NBC12. All rights reserved.