School bus issues in Fairfax, Prince William Counties - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

School bus issues in Fairfax, Prince William Counties

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FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. -

The frigid temperatures led to some headaches for school officials and parents in Fairfax County, Va., on Friday when more than 150 school buses wouldn't start.

Chief Operating Officer Jeff Platenberg says, "The problems consisted of freezing up lines, whether it was fuel line. We have air brakes, and sometimes the air lines were frozen."

But he says, "In most cases, it had to do with the batteries."

Schools were on a two-hour delayed opening and officials sent out an email to alert parents.

In Prince William County, school officials took some criticism over an alert they sent out late Thursday night, having to do with icy conditions at bus stops. It identified several roads, potentially inaccessible to buses, and advised that children should use alternate transportation to school if buses did not arrive within 20 minutes.

Director of Communications for Prince William County Public schools, Philip Kavits, provided the following statement in an email to FOX 5:

“Schools were opened today because the vast majority of roads were clear and passable, making it possible for students and employees to get safely to school, with minimum problems, to resume the business of teaching and learning.

Safety is the first priority and drove this decision. Getting students back to class is important because their education is our mission and our responsibility.

It's important to realize that, with more than 800 buses on the roads, some delays and other problems are inevitable every single day; today there will likely be more than on an average day, but nothing to put our students or employees at risk. Still, we took the precaution last night of alerting parents to potential trouble spots--about 20 roads within our 350 square miles of coverage. As always, we asked them to use their own good judgment regarding any safety concerns, and reminded them that students would receive an excused absence if kept home for safety. As every weather-related opening decision does, this one brought booth kudos and complaints--we expect that.

Above all, we are confident that this will be a safe--and reasonably trouble free day--for our students to get back to learning.”


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