All 125 Surrey schools opened their doors again Wednesday after a two-day snow closure across the district.
A shutdown of this length hasn’t been seen district-wide for 20 years, said school district spokesperson Doug Strachan.
Nearly 50 centimetres of snow fell in Surrey over the weekend and Monday night. Due to the amount of snow accumulated over such a short period of time, facilities crews were unable to keep up, Strachan said.
“Our crews deserve a lot of credit for working hard all weekend and Sunday and Monday night. There’s 125 sites and we’ve got limited equipment, staffing and contractors,” said Strachan.
District superintendents across the Lower Mainland have been speaking via conference call each morning to assess the snow situation, as it’s not just students and parents that are affected when inclement weather hits. Teachers and support staff live across Metro Vancouver and getting to school from other communities can be difficult.
Strachan said because Surrey is geographically so large, with differing amounts of snowfall often spread across the district, every morning facilities crews are placed in various quadrants of the city to assess the weather early and report back.
— Jordan Tinney (@jordantinney) February 8, 2017
“We don’t have many rural schools or a large bus service, so generally the schools routes are cleared by city crews,” he said. “We were criticized during the December and January snowfall for not having parking lots and sidewalks cleared, but because this is a rare situation, the rationale is it’s such a large investment to have excess equipment sitting idle for years not being used at all,” Strachan said. “That could be hundreds of thousands of dollars sitting idle and occasionally you need it, and that’s money that would need to come out of the classrooms.”
The two days of lost instruction time this week will be made up on a class-by-class situation, said Strachan.
As far as costs go, the Surrey School District has carried over its contingency fund for snow removal for the last five years, but due to this year’s record snowfall, the cost may still be a little more than what had been banked.
“Like everybody else, we’re hoping that spring will be here soon,” Strachan said.
Another significant storm is expected on Wednesday evening.
For the latest on Surrey school closures, follow Surrey Supt. Jordan Tinney on Twitter at https://twitter.com/jordantinney