Parents of Langley students say the school district has failed their children by not clearing walkways and playgrounds of snow, which has since turned to dangerous sheets of ice.
On Wednesday, a spokesperson for Langley School District’s maintenance department said most play areas at school sites should be cleared of ice by this week.
“Today (Wednesday), District staff was able to address many of the play areas at school sites and they will be back on it Thursday as well. By the end of Thursday it is likely that play areas that can be cleared will be free of ice and snow,” said Ken Hoff, district spokesman.
“The District appreciates the co-operation and patience of parents, students and staff as we all contend with the unusual and unpredictable weather.”
One parent at Topham Elementary in Walnut Grove remarked that there is nothing that can be done now, and they will have to wait for it to melt. But in the meantime, they hoped kids won’t slip while outside to play.
At Langley Meadows on Friday, the school population was playing outside during lunch on the icy grounds.
For the last two weeks, many Langley parents have been discussing the issue on Facebook, saying that it’s only a matter of time until a student falls and hits their head. Students at Langley schools are being let out for lunch to play outside. Some schools have held kids in for recess break and some other schools have blocked areas deemed too dangerous.
A parent of a child at Langley Meadows said that school’s playground is an icy mess. She slipped several times just trying to get her child to the front doors of the school. No maintenance crews were at her school this week.
“Shouldn’t there be stock piles of salt and contingency funds for all the years it didn’t snow? Why weren’t the playgrounds cleared right away so we aren’t in the mess now?” she wonders. She has heard parents aren’t allowed to clear the ice themselves for union and liability issues.
But other parents point out that if a child suffers a head injury, that could become a liability issue for the district, too.
A parent at Yorkson Middle School, where nearly 900 students attend, said last week it took her 30 minutes to get near the school and that she was forced to drop her son off nearby and ask him to be careful on the ice as he tried to not get hit by sliding cars or fall on icy walkways.
At James Kennedy Elementary, caution tape was placed in some areas. On Monday, there were minor fender benders at drop off in the morning.
It is a liability issue, said the district.
“District staff and school administrators are doing the best they can to maintain school properties and provide the safest situation possible while coping with the unpredictable weather and the resulting snow and ice,” said Hoff.
“Efforts have been continuous at all 45 district sites but there have been challenges. Access to playgrounds would be made on a site-by-site basis and each would have to be evaluated separately. School administrators would make the decision locally as to the safety of their individual site. Parent concerns are taken into consideration and staff will continue to monitor all district sites.”
Hoff said crews were working on de-icing several playgrounds on Wednesday. But he said it’s been a taxing time with ice and an unprecedented amount of power outages at schools.
“It’s hard to prepare for weather we only get every five to 10 years,” he said.
Weather is supposed to warm up to highs of seven degrees Celsius and rain but it isn’t known if that is enough to wash away the ice.