Snow gives district, commuters, buses fits

The Kent School District’s decision to leave schools open Friday morning, in spite of a light dusting of snow, left residents puzzled as to the reasoning behind the decision.

There were three minor bus accidents, which district information officer Chris Loftis called “fender benders,” as well as other accidents resulting from commuters making their way to schools despite the four inches of snow.

When the district sees the potential  for severe weather during a school day, it dispatches a transportation team at 4 a.m. to check the situation out and determine whether roads will be safe to travel on. They need to make their decision by 5 a.m., according to school officials.

This particular team made the call that the snowfall wasn't severe enough to impact roads, and that bus drivers, teachers and students could make it to school, the district said.

When reports came in an hour later that other school districts had closed, district officials stuck by their plan, saying that reversing a decision would cause too much confusion.

As reports went back and forth, district offices received questions about the situation and why the district had chosen to keep schools open. The questions and comments became a “cascade of emails and phone calls and messages,” Loftis said.

While the accidents were minor, Loftis emphasized that the district wasn’t dismissing them, and they are working to establish protocols to keep similar incidents from recurring.

“We can’t control the weather,” he said, “but we can control our processes.”

Editor's Note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version.

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