Feb 15, 2010

2/15/10: A Message from Sydney L. Cousins, Superintendent Howard County Schools

To all HCPSS families,
We announced earlier today that we will not be opening schools on Tuesday as we had originally hoped. As of today, a number of our school parking lots, driveways, and bus loops have not been cleared. Some streets are still covered with ice and others are too narrow for buses to fit down safely. The high piles of snow create real visibility issues.

In my message to you on Friday I mentioned my concern for the safety of our students who walk to school and those who must wait on bus stops that may be piled with snow. After driving around the county for the last several days, I still have those concerns, so I am asking again that you help by shoveling sidewalks and providing a safe area off the street where students can wait for their buses.

It is my intention to open schools on Wednesday, conditions permitting. Conditions around the county will not be perfect by then and I anticipate these conditions will exist for some time. We cannot wait for ideal conditions, but I do ask that you do what you can to help us minimize risk to students.

When schools reopen, we ask that the following precautions be taken:

Students are reminded to exercise extreme caution when walking to the bus stop or school. They may need to walk in streets or stand in streets to wait for buses. Students should allow extra time to walk to their destination and should be dressed appropriately for the weather and conditions that are present. Students should use extreme caution in and around intersections due to the height of snow at these locations.

Parents are asked to explain the above safety concerns to their children and should, when possible, provide direct supervision for walkers or students waiting as bus stops, particularly our younger students. Parents of children who are eligible for school bus transportation are encouraged to have their children take the bus. Make sure children are dressed appropriately, and if possible, in bright clothing. There may be delays in service due to these conditions. Parents of students in wheelchairs are encouraged to provide ample loading and unloading space to accommodate the bus ramp deployment.

Staff members are encouraged to car pool and access public transportation (Howard County Green Buses) if at all possible, because parking spaces at the schools will be at a premium. Staff should also use caution in and around schools due to the possibility that students may be walking in streets around schools.

Again, thank you for your patience and understanding. With your help and support we will welcome our students and staff back to school on Wednesday.

Sydney L. Cousin

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