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Students' choice: Walk in the road or walk on the snow-covered sidewalk

"Somebody's going to get run over.”
Posted at 10:20 PM, Feb 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-05 00:33:24-05

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS — Students in Cottonwood Heights returned to school on Tuesday after a winter storm dumped nearly 18 inches of snow.

A concern for some parents involves their children walking to school with the unknown condition of sidewalks.

“Today was such a concern because these little students were out on the road, beyond the white line,” said Claudia Bunker, who has worked as a crossing guard for the last eight years. “It’s an unusual day with this huge storm.”

Students walking to and from Butler Middle School were faced with some challenges along 2360 East. A long stretch of sidewalk was left untouched, forcing students to either trudge through the snow or walk along the road.

The Canyon School District released a statement to FOX 13 regarding the snow-covered sidewalk.

“Student safety is always a priority for Canyons District schools, and this includes the safety of children walking to and from school. We appreciate it when parents bring safety issues to our attention. In this case, a work order has been submitted to dispatch a tractor to remove the heavy ice and slush that was pushed onto a sidewalk adjacent the campus by snow plows.

Canyons District has 350 acres of property to maintain. After storms, custodians and ground crews report to work while it’s still dark, often as early as 2 a.m., to make sure our schools are warm and welcoming. The Feb. 2 storm that led to the closure of schools throughout the Salt Lake Valley deposited more than 18 inches of snow outside some of our schools. A crew of snow-plow trucks performed a first pass to clear parking lots. Crews must then work to remove slush and ice from walkways. They typically focus first on clearing school entryways, and bus and parent drop-off zones and then move to clear perimeter sidewalks.

Depending on the amount of snow, it can take one-to-three hours to clear an elementary campus, or longer for a middle or high school. Our plows also deposit ice-melt in advance of storms. On any given winter, the District will use in excess of 500 tons of the de-icing material. To put that in perspective, one ton is the equivalent of 40 store-bought bags of ice-melt weighing 50 lbs. apiece. Now imagine 20,000 of those bags, and you get the picture.”

A majority of students that were walking along 2360 East decided it was easier to hug the side of the roadway rather than walk through the snow on the sidewalk. Bunker, who has seen numerous close calls on the road over the years, says that the speed of passing cars is also a dangerous factor for students.

“I would say more than 50 percent do not drive 20 miles an hour,” said Bunker, who loves asking students about their day at school. “It’s just to be sure they get over here safely because somebody's going to get run over.”