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November 12, 2019 | 6:32pm
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Decision to return to classes likely to include blocked sidewalks, more snow in the forecast

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Classes in Ferndale schools have been canceled due to snowy weather and resulting driving conditions every day since an early dismissal on Friday February 8th. While many are anxious to resume classes and avoid too many make-up days added onto the end of the school year, officials may be faced with a difficult decision whether to resume classes tomorrow, Tuesday, February 19th.

In 2016, when the district was faced with several days of weather-related school closure decisions, Ferndale School District Assistant Superintendent Mark Deebach explained in an email about the challenges in making decisions that affect the lives of thousands of people.

The first priority is always student safety, followed very closely by the safety of parents and staff. We want to make certain that our buses; our student walkers; and all of our parent, staff, and student drivers can get to all of our schools over roads that are clear enough to allow safe arrival. The County and City road crews do a great job helping with this, but often other factors come into play, like calculating the amount of time children will need to be out in the cold and wet waiting for a bus and the safety of walking routes for those who come to school on foot.

The Ferndale area saw temperatures rise into the 40s over the past weekend resulting in some snow melt followed by freezing during colder nights. As a result, well-traveled roads are now bare and wet but many sidewalks around the Ferndale area, including those on routes leading to schools, remain a mix of ice and snow occasionally blocked by piles of snow several feet deep and wide from the shoveling and plowing of adjacent roads, driveways and parking areas.

City staff recently issued a reminder to city residents and businesses of their responsibility to clear sidewalks abutting their property.

Per Ferndale Municipal Code, everyone is responsible for the sidewalks in front of their house and business. The snow on the sidewalks are a serious safety hazard and impede first responders trying to access homes and businesses. With the weather giving us a temporary break, now is the time to get out there with a shovel and clear those spaces for everyone’s safety.

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In some Seattle neighborhoods last week, faced with the prospect of classes resuming after their snow event, residents and community groups participated in a group effort to clear the routes for students walking to their schools. Armed with shovels and a list of routes with the most need, Seattle Department of Transportation workers along with other city staff and volunteers worked to clear the sidewalks leading to schools.

Current area weather forecasts from the National Weather Service and Environment Canada call for temperatures tonight to hover around 32° with a chance of snowfall resuming late and continuing into tomorrow morning with 2 inches of new snow accumulation possible. Depending how much it warms tomorrow, precipitation may become a mix of snow and rain by the afternoon or continue as snow into the evening.

Both Ferndale School District and City of Ferndale offices were closed today due to the Presidents’ Day federal holiday so they were not available for comment.