Each year it comes sometimes lightly, others in large flakes accumulating quickly; often the snow isn't as much of an issue as the ice underneath. The Jasper Unit 1 School District has set procedures in place for scheduling snow days and working with the weather as is best possible. Chris Parr, Transportation/ Operations and Maintenance Director for Jasper Unit 1 Schools spoke about snow days and the various areas associated with it.
The criteria used for snow days utilizes both local and national information to determine the conditions. Chris states, “We keep a close eye on several weather stations and all weather systems that may be moving into our area. If need be we will attend a weather briefing usually conducted by the National Weather Service out of Lincoln, IL concerning incoming winter weather to see when and how we will be affected by the incoming system.” When the roads start being driven to test is determined by when the system moves in and what it is delivering.
They are also in contact with the Jasper County Sheriff's Department to see what they have experienced as far as road conditions. When it is determined the conditions of the roads become too hazardous to travel. The Superintendent will then make the call for a snow day (Cancellation of School). Since Jasper County is so big, one end of the County could be fine and the other end not good at all, so sometimes it takes several hours and multiple times of driving roads before a call can be made depending on the time the system moves in and the changing conditions of the roads.”
When determining an early dismissal, a close eye is kept on the changing conditions of the roads and when and how a system is moving into the County. Then a determination is made on whether a need exists to get the children home before conditions worsen.
Parents can assist by making sure contact information is correct and up to date so communication can be made via Blackboard Connect if there is a need for an early dismissal. On those questionable days, Chris states parents can “Please keep their phones close, if we do have an early dismissal the School District will contact them to make them aware of the dismissal times. Parents please have a plan already in place so if there is an early dismissal someone will be home for the student so the buses do not have to wait or come back because no one was there for your child.”
Chris speaks about the precautions the bus drivers take to ensure the safety of their passengers including carrying cinders or sand on their buses to use if the bus is in a place where the tires can not get proper traction, for example in areas where a turnaround is needed or at intersections. Chris states, “If at the intersections the corners are not pushed back it will make a turn difficult so we will avoid those corners. The same for the residential driveways. They will reduce their speed depending on the conditions of the roads. They will make sure their steps and aisle ways are free and clear of snow and ice to protect the kids from slipping or falling. They keep their windshields and side windows clear for visibility. They keep their fuel tanks full of fuel, just in case they would have to sit in one place because of road conditions.” He ends with “The School Bus Drivers of Jasper County take every precaution necessary to keep our kids safe everyday. They keep the safety of their students at the top of the list no matter what the weather brings us.”