How leaders prepare school buses to survive the extreme cold and make decisions to cancel class

DAVENPORT, Iowa -- Dangerously cold temperatures forced dozens of school districts to cancel or delay classes on January 25.

News 8 wanted to know what is taken into consideration when school district superintendents make the decision to call off school.

One stop we made was to the Dunham School Services School Bus lot on Davenport Avenue in Davenport.

Dunham is responsible to transporting thousands of Davenport Community School District Students to and from school everyday.

The night before the extreme cold began to impact the Quad City Area, leaders say school buses are prepared to tackle the cold.

Each bus is started, and runs for about 30 minutes every four hours. That process begins at 9:00 p.m. the night before classes begin.

Running the buses helps to prevent the diesel fuel from gelling up, which could impact the way the bus runs.

Knowing that each bus is able to run, there are other considerations school district leaders must consider.

In the Davenport Community School District, communications director Dawn Saul says Wind Chill is taken into account, when an advisory or warning is posted.

The superintendent takes into account the risk of children and staff with exposed skins suffering from frostbite if they spend to much time walking to school, or waiting for the school bus.

Because of a recent snow storm, Dunham Bus Services General Manager, Curtis Wheeler, said some area streets have not yet been plowed or de-iced.

The conditions of the roads could cause short delays on school bus routes.

Those short delays, even if they're only five to ten minutes, could be dangerous to kids.

With windchill reaching -35 degrees in some parts of the Quad City area on January 25, exposed skin could suffer frostbite in as little as 10-20 minutes.

"The health and safety of our students and staff are always foremost is making these decisions," said Saul. "Our district is comprised of rural and urban schools. Students may walk to school, ride a school bus or Citibus, or be driven  to school by parents/guardians or drive themselves  to school. This means we must consider a range of conditions when making weather decisions."

"Snow days" are exciting for kids, but can often be a burden for working parents who must find alternative child care when school is canceled.

However, calling off school the night before can be difficult for district leaders.

"In rare situations we have been able to make a decision the night before a weather event," Saul said. "This is difficult to do as weather can change rapidly. Normally the decision is made early in the morning, approximately 4:30 a.m. - 5:00 a.m."

Davenport Community Schools did close on January 25 because of the extreme temperatures.

For a full list of school closings, click HERE.

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