Slow recovery from winter storm

Melting snow and working crews have managed to clear up many roads since the weekend snowstorm hit, but area schools have tried to keep students safe by announcing closures for another day this week.

Shenandoah County Public Schools Superintendent Jeremy Raley announced schools will be closed today. Students were already scheduled to have Thursday and Friday, with teachers scheduled for professional days.

As a result of school cancellations, the instructional calendar has been adjusted for later dates.

“We have extended the first semester for three days,” Raley said, “The first semester will end on Wednesday, February 3, instead of Wednesday, January 27.”

The second semester will begin on Feb. 4 and report cards will be issued on Feb. 10.

Warren County Public Schools announced by 12:35 p.m. Tuesday that schools would be closed today. Superintendent Greg Drescher said that in spite of melting snow on Tuesday and roads that were cleared quickly, many bus routes were too narrow for safe travel. Most school parking facilities and roads are clear, he reported.

Closing schools today has provided a chance for bus turnarounds to be plowed and neighborhoods to clear out areas out of the street where students can safely wait for buses. Drescher said the district will aim to reopen schools on Thursday and he’ll be meeting with school departments this afternoon to make that decision.

Today marks the fourth day that schools in Warren and Shenandoah counties have been closed due to weather.

According to the Warren schools’ calendar, three days near the end of March serve as weather make-up dates that would’ve contributed toward students’ spring break if unused. The adopted 2016-2017 calendar has seven days built in. Drescher said the county has used up the three days this year, but additional make-up days at the end of the year may not be necessary.

“We’ll just have to go with what comes next. The built-in days generally will cover us – we didn’t have quite as many this year,” he said. “If it would just be this, we probably would not need to make those days up.”

If the three weather days are used for classes, Warren County students will have spring break March 24-28.

A post on Frederick County Public Schools’ Facebook page at around 3:30 p.m. Tuesday declared the county’s schools would be closed today, but administrative offices are open. This will also be Frederick’s fourth day closed, but Steve Edwards, coordinator of policy and communications, said there are five weather make-up dates built into the calendar.

Obstructed back roads haven’t been the only concern for Frederick County – Edwards said school parking lots, bus loops and driveways are a priority for facility services staff and other contractors that work with the schools.

“It continues to be a challenge to get our facilities cleared of the snow and the ice, and also to have safe road conditions on our roads and highways,” he said. “Obviously this is a storm of historic proportions, and the challenges … are pretty great at this point.”

He said custodial staff were only able to get into the schools for maintenance starting yesterday and the division hasn’t made any decisions about closings further in the week.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com