Icy conditions, not snow, driving factor behind school closures

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The majority of school districts across Rhode Island either delayed or canceled classes Tuesday — but the decision wasn’t made because of the snow.

Cranston Public Schools was one of the districts that opted to cancel classes altogether Tuesday.

Cranston Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse said she took into consideration not only the snow, but the road conditions, bus routes and pedestrian safety.

“The ultimate goal is to make sure students get into school safely and then back home again,” Nota-Masse said. “The decision to cancel is not taken lightly, because I realize it impacts students in many different ways. This is something they don’t teach you in ‘superintendent school,’ it’s something you really learn on the fly.”

Not all school districts opted to cancel or delay classes Tuesday, however. Providence Public Schools opened as normal despite the icy conditions.

Now, the Providence school district is drawing ire from teachers, parents and students — mostly because of the number of students who walk or take the bus to get to school each morning.

When asked about the decision to open on Tuesday, Providence Public Schools spokesperson Laura Hart released a statement saying the district, “works collaboratively with the city to determine the best course of action.”

“Our decision to keep schools open or to close them depends on a number of factors, including weather forecasts and predicted road conditions,” Hart said. “Our school bus schedule has two runs every morning. While we did experience some delays in the first run of the morning today, we were able to catch up for most of the second runs.”

Rachael Riquire has been a local school bus driver for 12 years and tells Eyewitness News these conditions can be difficult and unsafe for everyone involved.

“When the roads are icy the best thing we can do is drive as slow as possible, but dealing with hills that’s an entirely different story,” Riquire said. “A lot of these back roads we drive are extremely hilly, and you never know how your bus will handle it.”

Riquire also said navigating the bus through tight neighborhoods can also be a challenge during these types of storms.

“Trying to find a safe spot to turn around a 40- to 45-foot the vehicle, when a road is unsafe to pass is not always the easiest,” she said.

Scituate and Foster/Glocester have already had four snow days this school year.

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