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Fairbanks schools begin new semester after heavy plowing operations

Published: Jan. 4, 2022 at 5:58 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Last week’s winter storm brought unprecedented amounts of snow and ice to the roads in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.

It also brought challenges to the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District.

According to Andy DeGraw, Chief Operations Officer for the School District, “Our regular plow trucks couldn’t move because of the quantity of snow, and then that layer of hardened ice in between.”

The district mitigated the situation by contracting with local outfits in Fairbanks and North Pole. The plowing happened on a priority basis. “We do our bus and parent drop-off loops first. Then we go to staff parking, and then visitor and student parking last,” DeGraw said.

In addition to the plowing, custodial staff had to clear sidewalks outside school buildings.

Snow clearing lasted up until Monday night, January 3, and some work remains to be done, according to DeGraw. “We’ll be spending the next at least week to two weeks clearing piles of snow and moving them into more permanent locations.”

Meanwhile, school buses have seen delays due to hazardous road conditions and narrow roads. DeGraw said, “Certainly, there’s going to be some bus delays and late buses here in the next few days, just because they can’t go as fast.”

The district has also updated its bus schedule.

Due to staffing shortages, the school bus routes had to be reduced to 50 percent service at the beginning of the school year. Since then, “we’ve been adding those 50 percent routes back to full service.”

Durham School Services is adding new drivers every week. “We expect to be able to add, I’m thinking, a significant amount of routes back to full service very shortly,” said DeGraw.

Affected families can expect to hear from the district as soon as the logistics of increasing route coverage can be discussed.

The current school bus schedule can be found here.

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