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Many parents can’t afford snow days, and kids have cabin fever

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Metro-area students have been out of school all week, with Monday being a holiday, and patience, along with wallets, are stretched thin.

All Richmond-area schools cancelled classes Thursday, and even Friday, because of the frozen snow and ice on neighborhood streets.

"The problem with this area here at the top of the hill, you have Lakewood drive and there's a stop sign you can't see toward our right there," said Carolyn Hope, Henrico's Transportation Supervisor, West Area Zone. "Once the buses stop, they're not going to have enough traction being here on a snow packed area - they're not going to be able to restart that bus to make a right or left there," she explained.

As a veteran bus driver, she's checking for traction and icy conditions on this street leading to Tuckahoe Elementary.

“I know in year's past, I've been out here driving on streets like this and as I approach I'm looking for my students especially those that are running late to the bus. That's my worst nightmare is to have them running toward the bus and have them slip and slide and slide right underneath my bus."

All parents can appreciate the safety and precautionary attitude.

“Parents in particular should keep in mind that school officials make the best decisions they can under the conditions--and I think they make pretty good decisions," Henrico parent Scott Jarad said.

Still, parents said they’re running out of options when it comes to juggling work and the costs of a snow day. And a lot of kids said they are even getting bored, despite all the fun, thanks to a thin coating of snow and ice on the roads that just can’t melt.

Chase Smith attends Byrd Middle School in Henrico but this week he and his little brother get to see a lot more of their mom Eileen than usual.

Eileen Smith said her boss is very understanding.

“I have been allowed to work from home, which has been great, because we have a lot of deadlines with the end of the month coming.”

For that reason Smith is ready for the kids to head back to school.  Even a stay-at-home mom and her son agree that there has been too much time at the house.

During this extended vacation for students many parents are tapping into sick time and vacation days, and according to the Department of Labor, something a lot of moms can’t afford to do.

“Because I’m a part-time worker, I don't have sick days, anything, so, when I don't work…don't get paid,” Melissa Brooks said, as she waited for her husband to get home to take over childcare duties for the evening.

“We've done everything from play dates, neighborhood moms, bring your kid to work, swapping out schedules with my husband, and calling in grandparent reinforcement--all of those options,” she said.

Most economic analysts say there is no accurate way to measure how much productivity is lost due to these snow days.


  • Karen Green

    When I was growing up,schools were open every day,every season. Richmond has become such a cream puff. We barely got 2 inches of snow. No wonder the kids today expect so much for so little. Think about it.

  • loritannre

    Yes tuesday should have been a dchool day.why should kids take school seriously when goofy decision are not explainable?

  • gary

    School Districts are in a no win situation. If they open and weather hits a news reporter will egg on a parent to say how incompetent the school system is. If they side on the side of safety some news reporter will egg on a parent to say how incompetent the school system is for not opening.

  • NB

    Yes, in retrospect, Tuesday’s closings turned out to be unnecessary. BUT, on Monday, when school officials had to make a decision, ALL the forecasts were calling for 3+ inches of snow, possibly starting to fall as early as 10 AM, and wind gusts up to 20 mph. They chose to be cautious about the safety of the employees as well as the students. Good call!

  • Ian Ramsay

    I have to side with Karen Green on this. Kids now days are already so relaxed and expectant of things. That when a snow day hits they have nothing to do. I used to live out in Idaho and I was lucky to get a snow day. When the weather report called for 3″ or more of snow we just bundled up a little more and everyone’s parents left a little earlier and took their time in driving to school. In my entire elementary, junior high, and high school attendance I only remember having 1 maybe 2 snow days.

    Not to mention that the people out here drive like lunatics before bad weather hits. Then when it does they wonder why there are so many accidents. Perhaps if you used the information you learned in drivers ed about leaving adequate space, slowing down in inclement weather, and using your turn signal. I’d bet there would be far fewer stories about pile ups.

  • Lynn

    Forget the busses, parents work together toget the kids to and from school. They would figure it out. School had to be every student’s priority whether the busses run or not.

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