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Parents frustrated by bus woes, Halifax schools opting to open during snowfall

Friday morning’s snowfall proved to be a headache for parents of students in the Halifax area.

While some schools in the province were closed ahead of the wintry weather, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education  (HRCE) decided to keep all of its schools open.

However, slippery roads during the morning commute became an obstacle for some Stock Transportation school buses.

Parents on social media complained that their buses were either very late or didn’t show up at all.

“Buses are operating,” said Doug Hadley, a spokesperson for HRCE, in an email.

“Stock still have a few that haven’t completed their morning runs. They did not pull buses off the road, although Stock have confirmed there have been some drivers who pulled their buses to the side of the road because of local conditions.”

Stock Transportation tells Global News they received notification early Friday morning that the roads were “fit for safe transportation.”

“However, this was prior to the snowfall,” said Terri Lowe, COO of Stock Transportation, in an email.

“Putting safety at the forefront, we are working diligently to navigate the sudden declining weather and complete all possible routes.”

Lowe went on to say that the majority of students had been transported to school, but that poor weather and conditions meant some routes may not be completed. Stock has since indicated some routes will not be completed, but they plan to operate normally during the afternoon dismissal.

Education Minister Zach Churchill says his department is already conducting a review of the province’s school buses, which was prompted by complaints about scheduling at the beginning of the school year.

“The first day of snow and buses, it’s always going to be a frustrating experience but we have to do better making sure we’re prepared for all potential outcomes and do a better job getting kids to and from school on time,” Churchill said.

“So we’re reviewing our bussing practices right now. The issues have been primarily localized in the HRM area but we are taking a provincial look at it to see what adjustments we can make on a department level around regulation and policy.”

Meanwhile, parent Danielle Carswell is upset that HRCE opted to keep schools open to begin with.

Carswell, who has children in Grades 7, 8 and 11, at Ellenvale Junior High School in Dartmouth, drove her children to school Friday morning. When she saw the backlog of vehicles unsuccessfully maneuvering on Portland Street back towards her house, she decided to abandon her vehicle at the school and walk home after dropping her children off.

“I didn’t think it was really safe to be driving down that,” she said. “I just parked my car and walked.”

She says she felt it was unsafe for her and other parents to be on the roads, and for school buses to attempt the treks to school too.

“There’s no reason for us to be on the road like this. It isn’t safe,” she said.

Carswell says she was surprised HRCE decided to open its schools Friday, when they had chosen to close so many times in previous years.

“They seem to cancel school when it wasn’t necessary [in previous years],” she said. “There are no real guidelines.”

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