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Students in Hardin County, Kentucky schools will have their fifth snow day of the year Thursday.
School decision makers showed Fox 41 News what they wanted to see, before they made the call to close schools. The view through the windshield of transportation director John Skaggs only just started with a patch of snow and ice on a road.
It's that information that led superintendent Nannette Johnston to close schools for Thursday on Wednesday afternoon. And an advance decision for Friday classes could come Thursday afternoon, if conditions do not improve.
"It's a little easier when we make that decision and have time to think through and see it in daylight than it is first thing in the morning. That's a tough call," Johnston said.
Buses must pass oncoming traffic on narrow and winding rural roads made even narrower by blowing and drifting snow.
Skaggs pointed out a place that's normally a turnaround for seven or eight buses. It was covered with snow piled in part by a passing plow.
"The snow plow is knocking snow up and making barriers. You straddle one of those, and our buses will get stuck."
Skaggs is responsible for a system that includes more than 14,000 students, 205 buses and their drivers, and 16,000 miles traveled every day.
The district must also consider how long students may have to wait for potentially-delayed buses in the cold, and they must account for an estimated 600 high school students who drive themselves to class. They are 16 to 18-year-olds with limited driving experience on snow and ice.
Skaggs also wants help from parents on Thursday. He wants to know what roads in the subdivisions and the rural areas of Hardin County they might find dangerous, particularly roads that may not be on the regular routes he and other spotters typically drive in the winter weather. That information will help school leaders make the decision whether to hold classes on Friday.
"Hopefully we'll find some new spots to look at. I'm not saying we'll get to all of them, but we can try to get to most of them," Skaggs said.
"We're especially concerned about those cul-de-sacs, those areas that are already tight in good conditions. It's very difficult for our buses to navigate," Johnston said.
Call the Hardin County Board of Education offices at 270-769-8817 to leave a message about roads for spotters to observe.