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Schools planning to reopen after two days of cold

Valley View school district bus driver Christy Withers filling gas tank her bus. | Supplied phofrom Valley View School District

Valley View school district bus driver Christy Withers filling the gas tank on her bus. | Supplied photo from Valley View School District

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There may finally be a break in the Polar Vortex that brought arctic air into the area this week, stalling the start of school for school districts in Will County and elsewhere.

With temperatures expected to reach the teens on Wednesday, many schools are planning to reopen after spending Tuesday closed because of below zero temperatures and dangerous wind chills.

The Valley View School District in Bolingbrook and Romeoville spent Tuesday morning readying its fleet of school buses and doing maintenance after the two-day layoff.

Valley View director of transportation Lucy Harding said the district has 174 vehicles in its fleet. Harding said the plan for Tuesday was to get all of them started and, in some cases, replace batteries.

The vehicles are housed outside and Harding said it was difficult to get them started.

“We had about 30 that wouldn’t start at all on Monday,” Harding said. “We were jump starting them using cables along with portable battery chargers.”

Harding had a crew of about 35 drivers and five vehicle maintenance staff working eight hours a day on Friday, Monday and Tuesday to make sure the buses would start. Frozen gas lines and fluids and dead batteries were the main concern.

“They were starting buses and letting them run to keep the fluids flowing and batteries charged,” Harding said. “That process took about eight hours a day in the subzero temperatures. And this involved moving the buses around every day so the snow and ice could be cleared each day.

“It has been a daunting task for department employees.”

But with the uptick in temperatures predicted for Wednesday, Harding is confident that the buses will be ready for their usual runs.

“We worked hard and diligently to make sure the buses are ready to transport our students on Wednesday,” Harding said.

Valley View is ready for a back-to-normal day Wednesday and so are the majority of other area school districts.

Joliet Township High Schools is pushing back the start of the winter semester because a teacher institute day was canceled on Tuesday.

With the closure of both Central and West campuses Tuesday, the district’s teacher institute was moved to Wednesday, and the first day of the second semester is now Thursday.

Lemont High School and Joliet School District 86 are also reopening on Wednesday. All Plainfield District 202 schools were reopening Wednesday, as well.

Joliet Junior College is reopening its campus Wednesday. Classes for the spring semester will begin as scheduled on Monday, Jan. 13.



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