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School buses get stuck in snow with Pr. George's students aboard

Students in Reston, like their counterparts across the region, continues to battle snow-covered routes while trying to get to school this week. Many school systems have delayed openings through Friday.
Students in Reston, like their counterparts across the region, continues to battle snow-covered routes while trying to get to school this week. Many school systems have delayed openings through Friday. (Jahi Chikwendiu/the Washington Post)
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By Michael Birnbaum and Michael Alison Chandler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, February 18, 2010

Two groups of students were temporarily stranded on the way to school Wednesday when their buses got stuck in snow in Prince George's County.

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In Laurel, a school bus carrying 16 students to Eleanor Roosevelt High School was mired for about 90 minutes before it was freed from a snowy street. Another bus on Laurel Bowie Road headed to Benjamin Tasker Middle School was stuck for 45 minutes.

Wednesday's transportation incidents illustrate how much parents, students and schools still have to contend with as classes resume almost two weeks after twin snowstorms shut down the Washington area. Some students waited Wednesday morning for buses that never arrived. Schools are changing the way they run buses to try to maximize safety.

"If buses see walkers going to school along their route, they'll pick up the walkers so they don't have to deal with icy sidewalks," said Tanzi West Barbour, a spokeswoman for the Prince George's County schools, which are starting two hours late all week.

She said the Eleanor Roosevelt bus became stuck when it tried to make a U-turn on a snowy street that is part of its normal route. Its 16 student passengers had to get off the bus while a tow truck pulled it out. The students being driven to Benjamin Tasker did not have to get off that bus.

Barbour said parents whose bus stops are inaccessible should call the school system's transportation department at 301-952-6570 to find an alternate stop.

Some parents in snowy pockets of Prince William County had to bring their children to school Wednesday because buses couldn't reach them. School officials said they posted a list of bus stops they could not serve Tuesday afternoon. Some parents said they received the message too late.

Ken Blackstone, spokesman for Prince William schools, said an automated telephone message was scheduled for Wednesday evening to remind parents to check the system's Web site for updates.

Joining Prince George's with two-hour delayed starts Thursday and Friday are Prince William, Anne Arundel, Howard and Fauquier counties. Loudoun County schools are on a one-hour delay Thursday and Friday. Spotsylvania and Stafford counties are running on a two-hour delay Thursday.

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