Some schools in Connecticut will stay closed until next week, yet others are trying to function despite transportation challenges. Streets in certain cities, such as East Hartford, still have snow piled on sidewalks after Saturday's blizzard brought record snowfall to a handful of Northeastern states.
Although East Hartford School District reopened schools Feb. 14, some parents told WFSB they were concerned about their children traversing sidewalks narrowed by snowdrifts that, in some cases, also covered bus-stop waiting areas.
Parents said older children can navigate narrower sidewalks, but smaller elementary students need help. Consequently, many parents were seen accompanying younger students to school bus stops. But one parent said their bus stop was covered in snow, so she felt more comfortable driving her child to school.
"The sidewalks are kind of gone, and [at] the bus stops, the kids would have to stand in the streets to wait for the bus, which really isn't safe," said Amy Bennett-Hall of East Hartford. "So that's why I'm driving my kids to school."
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc noted that because of the historic snowfall, officials were reminding people to clear their sidewalks whenever they can.
First Student spokeswoman Jennifer Biddinger told STN the company runs 369 routes for CREC (Capital Region Education Council) schools in the Greater Hartford area and today 349 were operating, compared to 56 routes Wednesday. The bus contractor does not track day-to-day ridership, so she couldn't say whether the number of student riders was atypically low Thursday.
"After the storm, our drivers did make several test runs to identify trouble spots so they could be treated, and have not reported any problems with pickups or drop-offs," said Biddinger.
Boston city officials reopened schools Wednesday after dump trucks and large front-end loaders worked for days to clear huge mounds of snow along school bus routes. The nor'easter dumped two feet of snow in that city within 24 hours.
Transportation Director Carl Allen of Boston Public Schools told STN that his staff worked as a team for much of the weekend to clear snow from its bus yards.
"We are going to be closed [two days] – but only because of conditions on the roads, especially clearing the snow enough to get buses into loading zones, etc.," Allen said, adding that his school buses were ready to roll Monday but remained parked because of unsafe road conditions.
Superintendent Dr. Ben Tantillo of Duxbury (Mass.) Public Schools posted a statement on the district's website that schools would reopen Feb. 14 after officials resolved "continuing power issues" and assessed road conditions.
"There are remaining issues with some of the roads not being passable due to down power lines and trees. The DPW, Police and Fire Departments are working hard to rectify these areas," stated Tantillo.
Meanwhile, Hartford Schools Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto said in a statement that the past few days had been "challenging" because of the record snowfall.
"While my first priority is to get students back to school engaged in learning, I continue to be concerned about safety to and from schools. In partnership with the mayor, I have assessed bus stops, school conditions and parking lots, stated Kishimoto. "All Hartford Public Schools will be open on Thursday, Feb. 14, with a one-hour delay."
The winter storm called 'Nemo' was the fifth largest in Boston history (25 inches) and third largest in Worcester (28.7 inches), according to news reports. It was the second largest storm in Hartford, Conn. (22.8 inches) and Concord, N.H. (24 inches) and caused record snowfall in Hamden, Conn. (40 inches) and Portland, Maine (31.9 inches).