Snow and cold greet Thursday's return to work, school

Some side streets are still snow-covered.
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Light snow overnight left a fresh coating on city streets as temperatures are set to drop to single digits. Temperatures are not forecast to get above 15 degrees Thursday afternoon, and will drop below zero Friday morning.

Snow covered sidewalks and plowed-in bus stops are becoming a growing challenge for school districts as they decide where to close, delay or open. Certainly, student safety is always priority one.

But the need to get students back in the classroom so they can learn so they can prepare for the ISTEP is also becoming a growing concern. With mounting snow days, schools are becoming less conservative.

Thursday morning, we saw many students who couldn't walk on the sidewalks because they were so covered walking in the street, which creates another danger.

We talked with the IPS Transportation Director who said they do everything they can to make sure things are safe as possible before they make the call to open schools.

"This morning was really good. I think the city has very clearly has been working very hard to get things cleared off. I was a little concerned about the sidewalks and the curbs, so we monitor that and report that up. But, ultimately, we needed to go today," said Chris Walls, Indianapolis Public Schools' transportation director.

"Early on, we were potentially a little bit more conservative and as we settle in to what the need is, we've still gotta get our students to school, we've just gotta do it safely," said Walls.

Plow crews worked hard Wednesday to clear and treat as many streets as possible, hoping to reveal dry pavement before Thursday night's deep freeze.  Many road chemicals become ineffective in low temperatures.

Traffic on I-65 in Boone County was running near normal speeds early Thursday, but several accidents in metro Indianapolis slowed interstate travel on I-70.  Even with many roads cleared, commuters are advised to allow extra travel time due to the overnight dusting of snow and refreezing roadways.

More than 150 schools and businesses decided to delay their Thursday start times or close altogether following Wednesday's heavy snowfall.

Many school bus routes have been cleared, but that snow was pushed onto sidewalks and bus stops and has not melted, so superintendents will factor student safety into Thursday morning's decision to close or delay.

For Lunye Johnson, a working parent in Indianapolis, the snow impacts her life at home and the office. "It's hard," she said. "I have people calling in every time school's closed. They won't be able to come to work because the kids are out or the 2-hour delay makes them come later. So it piles up the work for us and we have to cover.  It's getting tiring."

Motorists should remain vigilant for pedestrians walking in driving lanes because sidewalks are buried in snow and ice.