Snow strands students on buses, at schools for hours

Hundreds of students were left at school for hours after class ended

An abandoned school bus around SW Barbur in Portland during a snow storm, December 14, 2016 (KOIN)
An abandoned school bus around SW Barbur in Portland during a snow storm, December 14, 2016 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Schools around the Portland metro area dealt with the challenges of winter weather transportation during Wednesday’s storm.

Parents from several school districts told KOIN 6 News their children were stuck on school buses or stranded at school due to snowy conditions and heavy traffic.

School closings and delays

North Clackamas School District officials told parents many middle school students were either still on buses heading home, or stuck at school hours after classes ended.

The district said students at North Clackamas High School watched a movie and middle schoolers were fed free of charge while they waited for safe travel home.

By 9:30 p.m., all students from Happy Valley Middle School and Rowe Middle School were off campus and heading home.

Beaverton parent Cara Novoa said the bus usually drops her 6-year-old son off at home at 3:30 p.m., but he didn’t show up until well after 6 p.m. Wednesday. Novoa expressed her frustration with the school district for not letting students leave early when snow started moving into the metro area.

Beaverton School District shared updates for several schools on Facebook. Hundreds of students were waiting for buses to arrive, or were sitting on buses trying to make it through heavily congested traffic, throughout the evening.

According to parent and teacher Hayley Wray, hundreds of Vose Elementary students were left waiting for buses to take them home until after 7:30 p.m. Maureen Wheeler with Beaverton School District said there were about 350 students there at one point.

As of 8:30 p.m., 82 students were still waiting for buses at Beaverton schools.

The district thanked Market of Choice and Fred Meyer for donating food to students and staff at Vose, Springville Middle School and Meadow Park Middle School.

Wheeler said school officials decided not to cancel school or let students out early Wednesday based on forecasts that the storm would come in after school hours.

“Unfortunately that didn’t happen today,” Wheeler said.

Lincoln High School Principal Peyton Chapman told parents about 40 students remained at the school and were being watched by security guard Stan Caples and herself. Chapman said they had permission from the district to keep the school open late. She apologized for the delay and assured parents their children were safe.

“We’re just the few students who couldn’t get out,” Lincoln student Libby DePreist said. “There were plenty of students who walked in this weather all the way to Southeast Portland.”

DePreist said her parents tried to pick her up but couldn’t get there due to traffic.

Students said they were well taken care of and fed while they waited.

Portland Public Schools spokesperson Courtney Westling said it’s hard to make the call to end school early in these situations.

“It’s a really hard call to do an early dismissal because we have a lot of kids who rely on school for their meals and shelter and not to mention it’s inconvenient for family to come in the middle of the day and pick up kids,” Westling said.