Schools Re-Open After Two-Day Shutdown

By Bill Hudson, WCCO-TV

ST. PAUL (WCCO) — For a second straight day, public school students in Minneapolis and St. Paul were again taking advantage of rare snow days. Both districts decided to close all classes and school activities to allow more time to clear snow from Saturday’s December blizzard.

Along Wirth Parkway in Minneapolis, Tuesday’s day off presented the perfect opportunity to pull out the sleds. Catherin Henne was spending the day with her kids, but knows the toughest sledding was on the streets.

“Even today I could see they’re finally getting the streets completely plowed so getting a big school bus down them is rather difficult,” Henne said.

That’s just part of the reason both Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools decided one more day was needed to allow both city and private snow removal crews more time to get the job done.

“I will not make a decision because of dollars, it’s always because of kids and their safety,” said St. Paul Superintendent Valeria Silva.

After conferring with school and transit staff, she made the decision to remain closed. Silva said she was not being critical of the city’s snow removal efforts, rather, praising the job they’ve done.

Instead, Silva said the loading and unloading zones around the city’s 75 public school buildings needed additional snow removal work to assure student safety.

There was also concern that if buses got stuck or delayed on narrowed streets or tight intersections, students could stand outside for much longer waiting for buses to arrive. That’s a concern because the morning wind chills were well below zero.

“I put my staff on buses to figure out how hard it would be and how much we wanted to keep schools open, that’s the bottom line,” Silva said.

But St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said schools should have opened this morning. He defended the job the city’s public works department did clearing nearly 1,900 lane miles of St. Paul streets. Coleman argues all the city’s streets were plowed and passable to cars and buses.

“Parents, when there’s a snow day, are frustrated because they have to make daycare arrangements or take a day off work. It’s very difficult for some families,” Coleman said.

Both school districts say they will re-open to all students and activities on Wednesday morning.

WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson Reports

More from Bill Hudson
  • shawn mcgreevy

    It appears that the St. Paul Superintendent Valeria Silva, needs to go back to school soon. watch he video clip. Her English is terrible. Just goes to show who gets the jobs in MN.

  • Raider_MSP

    @ shawn mcgreevy…how about you just take over the job…since your ENGLISH is so good…go on, just take it.

    Thats my two cents..

  • Pete

    Ms Silva did take a good decision. St Paul back roads where buses have to go through with cars on both side of the street and sometimes illegal parking at the corners are extremely difficult to maneuver.
    Having driven these school buses for several years in St Paul, I can definitely attest to this.
    While the main street are usually plowed thoroughly, it is more difficult in smaller streets.
    The many hilly streets, the ice effect at low temps, when salt is inadequate are other factors of the difficulties and dangers of St Paul School bus driving.
    Another factor reported in the article is the very low temps and children that are not properly dressed (because of silly fads and/or lack of funds)
    Children without gloves or hats, even socks at time are a common occurrence
    Finally one aspect that is not talked about here but is a very serious issue in transportation: parents driving their children to school, who are not following safety rules and loading zones, blocking streets and intersections, unloading and loading at precarious spots, are a major and under reported threat.
    Ms Silva has taken a courageous and maybe unpopular decision vis a vis the parents, but at least she is doing it for the better safety of all concerned; students, teachers and custodians, but also bus drivers (who do a great and many times ungrateful job) and the general public a t large.
    The Mayor should be a little less in a hurry in his statements, and more in tune with the real issues, he could have look more globally before making rash statement. Hopefully the teamsters will remind him of the reality of the dangers related to these issues, specially in his town

  • Linda

    As a teacher in the St. Paul Public Schools, I must say that Pete, the former school bus driver is right on the money. Too many of our kids don’t have the proper clothing to stand outside waiting for a bus that is delayed. If someone wants to help out with that issue, they are welcome to donate child-and-teen- size hats, mittens, scarves, sweaters, and socks to any school in the district.

    To the person who has criticized Superintendent Silva’s English, your ignorance and prejudice are obvious. Shame on you!

    To Mayor Coleman: You may have gotten complaints about how long it has taken for the city to plow the streets, but most thinking people understand that this has been an unusually difficult task and they are grateful that the plows get out at all. Nobody who understands the situation really blames you or anyone else for the time it has taken to plow the streets. Quit defending yourself and just do your job!

    To parents: You live in Minnesota. It is winter. Once in a white, school will be called off. Make arrangements in advance with family members, neighbors or friends from church to have your kids watched during the day during emergencies like this!

    • Jess

      Wow Linda, you certainly seem to have all of the answers.

      As the grown daughter of a single mother, I remember all too well the worry my mother went through if school was called off, trying to find a place for me to stay during the day so that she would not have to miss work.

      Perhaps a little compassion in your thought process would go a long way. Just a thought.

  • not shawn mcgreevy

    shawn mcgreevy is just mad because he barely finished high school, thus not qualifying him for the job of superintendent… he is, however, qualified to sit at home and do nothing but make racist remarks behind a computer…

  • jackie

    Right on, Linda.
    As a parent of 3 public school kids, I appreciate the basis of the decision made by Silva – kids come first.

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