School Cold Weather Preps

By: Sarah Platt Email
By: Sarah Platt Email

These sub-zero temperatures have meant no school for thousands of kids across Michiana. While many enjoy a day off, South Bend School Corporation staffers are working to make sure everything is up and running for Wednesday's scheduled return to class.

One of the priorities for the South Bend Schools is to make sure its’ 300 school buses are up and running Wednesday. The wind chill advisory that kept kids home for the past couple of days is lifted. Now the schools are concentrating on making sure buses work and classrooms are warm.

A "cold day" might be a day off in the comforts of home for thousands of area kids, but it's also causing many people to put in an extra long and cold work day.

“We need to be on time Wednesday, these buses need to get out of the gate in time and run on their routes on time, so the kids don't stand out very long,” says Judith Dahlstrom, Director of Transportation for South Bend Schools.

In order to ensure that these diesel engine buses are working Wednesday, mechanics are running each bus for about 45 minutes. “Tomorrow morning the mechanics will be in about 4 AM to re-start the buses and have them running when the drivers get here about 6 AM,” says Dahlstrom.

And across town, at Jefferson School, staff are closely monitoring the heat. You could this program the "mother" of all thermostats. “Which we can monitor 80 percent of our buildings from our computer on our desk, and see what's going on as far as temps and any problems,” says Mike Szymanski, Director of Capital Projects for South Bend Schools.

Jefferson is just one of the School Corporation's 40 buildings. With the Energy Management System or EMS, staff can check out every building within about 10 minutes. Maintenance and staff are also doing walk throughs and keeping a close eye on pipes, which could potentially freeze and burst.

“You do worry about it more, especially over the weekend, when people are away during weekends; that is when you worry. As long as somebody is in the building, you can catch problems pretty fast,” adds Szymanski.

So when these halls fill up again with students and teachers tomorrow, everyone can get straight to the business of learning, instead of worrying about the temperature.

As far as the buses go, Dahlstrom says they will run the spare buses in case they have a problem with the others. They will also have "chase" buses throughout town, in case one bus is delayed, another can pick kids up so they don't have to wait long in the cold.

In case you were wondering, those days are not built into the normal schedule, so that means the days must be added to the end of the school year.

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