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School district prepares for winter season
by Jill Lufrano
Nov 17, 2011 | 1189 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Jill Lufrano - Dave Wyatt, a bus driver for the Washoe County School District, puts chains on his tires Wednesday in a contest to to see who can equip their vehicle the fastest for winter driving. Wyatt put the chains on in 3 minutes, 19 seconds.
Tribune/Jill Lufrano - Dave Wyatt, a bus driver for the Washoe County School District, puts chains on his tires Wednesday in a contest to to see who can equip their vehicle the fastest for winter driving. Wyatt put the chains on in 3 minutes, 19 seconds.
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RENO — When the snow starts to fly and students need to get to class, bus driver Dave Wyatt is the fastest chain setter by far in the Washoe County School District — as he proved Wednesday.

In 3 minutes, 19 seconds, he had chained up a full-size yellow school bus and had it ready for the road.

“It’s a trained skill,” Wyatt said. “I’ve done it for a lot of years. You need to know how they work.”

Of course, the colder it is, the tougher it is to install the heavy metal onto the massive rubber wheels, but safety comes first for the winner of Wednesday’s “chain competition” at the school district’s bus yard. The fleet of 320 buses is routinely chained each year as winter hits the area. Drivers are trained in chaining the large vehicles for safety.

“The number one thing is the safety of the kids,” Wyatt said. “I love what I do.”

Wyatt drives for special needs children and he “loves every single one of them,” he said.

Wyatt walked away from Wednesday’s demonstration with a trophy and a gift card for $50 for his victory, but the most important aspect of the day was the reminder that winter is on its way and practicing chaining the buses was only part of the district’s winter preparedness plan this year.

As technology changes, so does the district’s plan to alert parents during the winter season, said Gordon Salas, the district’s facilities management officer. The district will use everything it has at its disposal this year to alert parents about snow delays, snow days and natural disasters, he said, including Twitter, Facebook, robo-calls, the district’s website at www.washoecountyschools.org and through the morning media.

“It’s all predicated on safety primarily,” he said. The district works closely with the National Weather Service days before any weather event might hit the area, Salas said. A delayed start might be issued if it appears a few extra hours of time will be needed to allow crews to clear roads and highways. The public would be notified if this happened through messages in the media, via the Internet or other measures, Salas said. If this happened, morning kindergarten would be canceled.

A “Connect-Ed” phone message will be sent to all parent and staff starting at 6 a.m. to alert them about any changes to the school schedule. It will also be posted on the district’s twitter page, @wcsdtweet, and on its Facebook page. Parents can also call the parent line at 334-8373 for updated information.

Winter bus stops will be announced as necessary. These stops are alternative pick-up and drop-off locations used when road conditions prevent a bus from using the regular stops. These locations are published online at http://bus.washoe.k12.nv.us/elinkrp/OfficialStopList.pdf. If schools are closed, all schools will be closed and no classes or programs will be provided on that day at any school site.

The district prepares all year for the winter season, Salas said, by clearing storm drains and winterizing once fall hits.

“It’s a pretty comprehensive list we have,” he said.

District officials work with Washoe County road crews, the Nevada Department of Transportation, Reno and Sparks public works department by sharing information, he said.
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