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

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