Weather Week: Testing roads conditions for school bus safety

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – Greenville County Schools is the largest district in South Carolina with over 72,000 students at more than 100 school sites. The district covers over 800 square miles of land, and with changing weather, navigating those roads to school can be hazardous. 

In Greenville County, checking those roads for safety falls on a small group called the “I.C.E. Team.”  “I.C.E.” stands for inclement conditions evaluation.

“A lot of people think it’s only winter weather that we evaluate with the term I.C.E.,” Greenville County Schools Transportation Director Adam James said.

I.C.E. Team members are assigned to geographic areas across Greenville County, and they personally check road conditions and the conditions at each school throughout the year. Decisions are made a soon as possible so that parents, students and staff can make plans for the school day. 

“We go out so early to catch our bus drivers before they come in and start running the morning route and obviously before teachers would drive to go to school,” James said. “Another concern would be student drivers and parents dropping off the kids in the car loop. So, we try to keep everyone’s safety in consideration.” 

Student and staff safety on the roads is the main concern when deciding to close, delay or dismiss schools early.  

The district faces several problems when it comes to evaluating over 800 square miles of roads. Weather in northern parts of the county can see snow and ice, while schools in the southern part of the county are above freezing temperatures.

“Just because the weather isn’t as severe on the southern side doesn’t mean there aren’t hazards,” according to James.

A teacher might live on the southern end of the county and work on the northern end, so I.C.E. Team members have to consider employee safety there.

Similarly, road conditions could be dangerous for some of the 10,000 students who attend school through the school choice program. 

“Greenville has a very robust choice program. A students may cross the I-85 line to attend their school choice, so it really is a county wide decision,” James said.

As the school year begins, I.C.E. Team members will be hitting the roads to keep you and your students safe whether it’s rain, snow, high winds or ice. 

“We don’t want to put anyone in any risk that is avoidable,” James added.

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