BEND, OR -- All Central Oregon school districts shut down Friday due to the winter weather. However, parents are questioning the Bend-La Pine School District's decision to remain open Thursday, when all other districts closed. Parents dropping off students at High Desert Middle School in Bend thought conditions were unsafe. The school parking lots were not plowed, so it was pretty deep snow. And, the sidewalks were not cleared for the kids. Even the bus lane hadn't been plowed," said a Bend mom. "The cars were slipping around and people were having a hard time getting going with the deep snow, so it was kind of a fiasco." A mom at Jewell Elementary said she saw cars sliding durnig morning drop-off, Thursday. "It had snowed since they'd been through, so it was compact snow and ice, very slick. And, not a real good job clearing sidewalks for the kids, either. And, they told the kids no recess." She added, "They can't get there, they can't go out for recess. I'm not really sure why you wouldn't just call school."
Jay Mathisen, assistant Superintendent for Bend-La Pine Schools said over a dozen crews worked multiple sites at once to clear the snow. "We had a small window of time between 3:45 and 7, where we did as much as we could on as many campuses as possible. And then, if parents came in after that, because the snow was coming down so hard and accumulating so quickly, the first places that got plowed looked like they hadn't been touched." He said the decision to close or delay school is made at or before 5 a.m. each day during incelement weather. "At the time we made the decision, we didn't feel that we had road conditions that warranted a 2-hour delay. We felt that if we moved to a delay with what we were seeing on the roads at the time we made the call, that we'd be setting a pretty low bar around weather related delays and closures. That's why we went the way we did." Mathisen says snow plows start working at schools when snow reaches 2-inches.