COLMAN, S.D. (KELO) — Piles of melting snow are making many gravel roads nearly impassable in South Dakota— impacting businesses and first responders. At least two school districts are also pulling their buses from those roads.
School is out for the day and students are loading the buses at the Colman-Egan School District. However, these buses will be sticking to the pavement.
“The gravel roads have not been good for some time on our bus routes, and actually last week, we had an exhaust come off a bus. And we have another in the shop right now getting some more work done that probably could be attributed to the rough roads,” Colman-Egan superintendent Scott Hemmer said.
The Rutland School District is in a similar boat.
“It was just something that I think needed to be done. Not only for us as a school district, because you know, unfortunately those roads are really hard on our buses, but at the same time they’re really hard on the roads, too,” Rutland superintendent Brian Brosnahan said.
“We’re just prolonging how long it’s going to be before they get back to where they should be. We’re trying to not rough them up, but there’s only so much you can do,” Hemmer said.
If the gravel roads can dry up, they hope to be back on them again soon.
“I know that there are a number of townships that are working really hard to get their graders out to be able to get it all smoothed out and ready to go. But at the same time, we don’t want to have their work destroyed if the roads are still wet because its just a continuous cycle,” Brosnahan said.
In the meantime, each district is trying to be as accommodating as possible for students and families, whether it’s opening the school earlier or meeting as close as they can on the pavement.
“I have staff that are coming in at 7:30 in the morning. I know some families, that’s worked out well for them. They can drop their kids off at that time, and everyone’s been really understanding,” Hemmer said.
“It was a difficult decision going into the whole ordeal, but at the same time, I think it was the right one. And hopefully if we can get some dry weather here in the next couple weeks, we’ll be able to get kids to and from the home like we usually do,” Brosnahan said.