Maintenance crews keep schools safe and open during snowstorms
OGDEN, Utah — The weather forecast can change by the hour here in Utah. That’s why crew managers are often up early sometimes before midnight checking the conditions and deciding how many people need to be called in to get the schools open and clear.
It’s important to have pride in what you’re doing to know that sometimes arduous tasks are essential.
“When I come in I’m just excited you know, ready to get to work. It’s a nonstop process,” Maurice Lewis said. “But it’s an enjoyable process.”
Lewis has been clearing the snow in the Ogden School District for nearly 29 years. Just part of his duties as head custodian and Highland Junior High.
“Sometimes you get tired you know, but it’s a good tired,” Lewis laughed. “It’s a good tired.”
Helping reach that goal are people like Jose Del Rio.
“I think it’s pretty fun,” Del Rio said. “At first I thought it was stressful but now it just seems like, ‘I hope it snows tomorrow ha ha.'”
He salts and clears the parking lots and drop-off zones but also helps plan early on.
“I’ll be doing weather checks every hour,” Del Rio said. “If it starts at midnight, I’m up at midnight, just checking to see if it’s accumulated, if it hasn’t accumulated then I’ll check it again at one.”
He’ll ultimately decide how many people to call out and when. But when the worst of it hits an hour or two just before school, that’s when they may need extra time, and have a late start.
“It’s just we’ve got to take the bull by its horns you know, and hopefully hope for the best, you know?” Del Rio said.
All things that can make their jobs unpredictable and tough, but when the doors can open up and the pathways are clear.
“So gratifying knowing that we played a greater role in getting the kids to school on a day like this,” Lewis said.
That’s when the snowy days, can be some of the most satisfying.
Before having a late start, people at the administration level typically have to make that call by 5:30, so they can get the buses delayed.
Ogden schools will very rarely call a snow day in part because many of the parents here can’t always get a day off and many of the students depend on the daily meals here.
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