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Winter storm delays Park City school buses

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Parents ask why they weren’t notified about bus problems.

As many parents of young children know, juggling different drop-off and pick-up schedules can be difficult even on normal days.

Monday was not a normal day. The massive snowstorm made driving most anywhere in the Wasatch Back difficult.

Jon Snavely has children at two Park City schools. For Snavely’s son, who attends Jeremy Ranch Elementary, the storm meant he waited outside more than 45 minutes for his bus to pick him up from school to go home.

“We literally had no idea what to expect because he was just standing there with his friends waiting at the elementary school for the bus to show up,” said Snavely.

Another Jeremy Ranch parent said they were unhappy their children had to stand outside in the storm waiting for a late bus. They said the transportation office told them the children had to wait outside because the school had no way of knowing when the bus would arrive.

Snavely said he was in touch with his son by phone, but it was the school district he wanted to hear from.

“I can totally understand the difficulty in running behind. I think the challenge for parents comes in when we don't know what to expect or have a window into, you know, when the kids might ultimately be back. You can’t control the weather but maybe we can find a way to at least let everybody know what's going on,” said Snavely.

Tuesday morning, parents in the Pinebrook area also reported up to 30-minute delays.

Heidi Matthews is the spokesperson for the Park City School District. She said back in 2018 there was a way for parents to track their children’s buses. The district used an app called Safe Stop but Matthews said only about 100 PCSD parents used it. During the pandemic she said the company went out of business.

PCSD has a parent notification system that can call, email or send text messages to parents in the event of an emergency or for other school related issues. However, Matthews said it’s not currently set up to be used to notify parents when school buses will be late.

“There is the SwiftK12, which is the messaging service that the school district uses, does potentially have the capability to send those text messages out but it would require a pretty good setup in advance. You know, not only who is on each bus route but keeping that up to date,” said Matthews.

Without an option for parents to track buses on their own, Snavley said text messages explaining when delays are occurring would go a long way in easing worry and help parents better prepare.

Matthews said the district is looking into its options.

“Looking forward, we're definitely exploring other options to be able to have that service of, you know, what's happening in real time and having that text capability going out,” said Matthews. “Like I said, we did have it, went bankrupt, wasn't really utilized. And definitely, looking into the future because we want our parents to know where the kids are and we don't want the kids out in the cold and want to make sure that that communication is open.”