How local schools are preparing for brutally cold conditions

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - With temperatures dropping in the 20s Wednesday night and heavy winds early Thursday morning, it's going to feel even colder at the bus stop.

In just a few hours, school bus drivers will be at the Norfolk bus yard getting ready to take thousands of kids to school. But the cold conditions present a potential danger for kids, and come Thursday temperatures are going to be a lot lower than what they currently are.

Thursday morning, temperatures are expected to be in the upper teens. With strong winds also expected to whip through the area, they'll feel like they're in the single digits.

Related: Drivers reminded to proceed cautiously over bridges during deep freeze 

That's why some local schools are taking precautions to make sure kids stay safe.

"Parents, be aware. It's going to be cold. Just know to send your baby to school with a jacket on, maybe a light sweater or a hoodie underneath," said Virginia Beach mom Felicia Davis.

With a forecast like that, school districts are being proactive. Both Chesapeake and Virginia Beach schools are opening school doors 30 minutes earlier so parents can drop kids off early, rather than have them wait outside at a bus stop.

Hampton schools say their school bus drivers will be arriving to their lots at 4:45 a.m. Thursday. Mechanics will also be on site around 5 a.m. for any help needed.

"The drivers - they have to do what they have to do. It might take a little longer for your buses to get on the roads because realistically, they have to warm up the bus," Davis said. "You don't warm up the bus, you crack your transmission."

In the past, some parents say because of cold mornings they've had to wait and question where the buses were. However, other parents say it's times like these where patience is key.

"You want everybody to be safe? Okay, so that means let's warm up these buses so we can get the heat flowing so everybody's baby gets to school nice and warm," said Davis.

The following school districts sent News 3 statements regarding how they will operate during Thursday's cold weather:

Hampton City Schools

All Hampton City Schools will open on time tomorrow. Hampton has a starting crew through our Transportation Department who arrive to our two bus lots and begin starting buses at approximately 4:45 a.m. We also have a mechanic to report to both lots by 5 a.m. to assist if needed. This gives ample time for buses to warm up and be ready to start on schedule.  Our first tier typically leaves our lots around 6 a.m. This is a practice the division has been doing for the past four years anytime the temperatures are in the 30's or below.

Chesapeake Public Schools

Hello, this is Chesapeake Public Schools with an important message.  All schools will be open Thursday, January 31, 2019, at the regular start time.  Because of the cold weather and high potential for late bus runs, parents and guardians are asked to ensure that children are dressed properly for very cold weather on Thursday, including coats, hats, and gloves.  Parents may also want to make sure their child is attended at the bus stop until the bus arrives.  To accommodate the potential of a late bus and any inconvenience it may cause our parents, administrators will open all schools thirty minutes early for parents that may wish to drop their child off at school.  Thank you, be safe and stay warm.

Williamsburg-James City County Schools

At this time, there are no plans to adjust the school operating schedule in Williamsburg-James City County.

Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Good evening - As you may know, weather forecasts are calling for temperatures to drop in the teens tonight and remain low throughout tomorrow morning. With that in mind, please consider dressing your children in layers to keep them warm at the bus stop. Due to the weather conditions, some buses may take a few extra minutes to start up and begin their routes in the morning. We apologize for any delays in pick up times that this may cause. Should you have a need to drop your children off at school rather than having them wait at the bus stop, we are taking the proactive step to open buildings 30 minutes in advance of the regular start of the school day. As always, please be aware of signs at each school, which designate “bus only” areas in the drop off zone. Thank you and stay warm!

Northampton County, Virginia, and Gates County Public Schools will operate on a one-hour delay and Accomack County Schools will be delayed two hours Thursday due to the weather.

So Thursday, make sure your children are dressed warmly and that you're planning ahead for possible delays when it comes to the school buses.

Click here to see the latest forecast.

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