Kyle Smith ‘16 – We’ve all heard the story of our parents walking uphill in the ice and snow both ways to school.

Our kids will hear stories about our experiences, but instead of walking uphill both ways, students were driving to school when they should’ve had a day off due to weather.

If the roads are supposedly good enough to have school, we should be able to keep the parking lots and walk-ways clear.

Word has been spread that our school is responsible for all that, though in reality the district is actually in charge of the parking lots.

“There are only four vehicles equipped for clearing snow,” RHS principal Mr. Kaufman explained. “And they have the whole district to cover; not just our campuses. Their services are as-needed. The sidewalks, however, are cleared by our custodial staff.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t always go according to plan.

“The privatized custodians are responsible for clearing the sidewalks,” an anonymous source said. “The midnight custodial crew did not show up to work. [He] said this is being handled but did not give specifics.” The source also sympathized that the snowblower did not work for the morning crew.

The condition of the parking lot and walkways creates very hazardous and inconvenient circumstances, according to students.

“Since they don’t clear the parking lots, people have been parking in the spot that I painted, and I’ve even been blocked in by others,” Will Spencer ‘16 said. “I almost fell several times yesterday.”

“You can’t see the lines, so you might park where you’re not supposed to,” Matt Nelson ‘16 commented. “I worry about getting a ticket.”

Young drivers, some of whom may have only gotten their license recently, often experience anxiety while driving in bad weather, and may not know the proper procedures to prevent accidents like adults might.  

“It’s dangerous,” Nicholas McKiernan ‘16 said. “Some students don’t drive safe, and for some it’s their first time driving in winter. Accidents are bound to happen. It’s gotten so bad, I’ve seen cops sitting outside both the RETC and the high school. The school [district] isn’t taking cautionary steps to prevent accidents by not shoveling, plowing, or salting.”

That being said, the real question is what could we try to do about it?

It’s difficult for the parking lots to be plowed when there are cars in the way. When even the main road conditions are slick, and some back roads may have been impassable, more consideration should be put into a snow day for the well-being of the students and staff. This will leave a period of time where the parking lots are open for the snow plows.

Being more preemptive with salting the parking lots and sidewalks is another step that could be taken. If you let the snow accumulate and then put salt down, the melted snow will fall to the bottom and freeze, forming an icy base. To help avoid this danger, watching the weather would allow us to have salt put down beforehand.

The school could also try fundraising to acquire a pick-up truck with a snow plow, or another snowblower, which means if Buildings and Grounds (the ones who plow the parking lots) aren’t available, the school itself still might be able to do something.

“We should be able to walk into work without fear of falling down,” the anonymous source went on. “Please also remember our working conditions are the students’ learning conditions. It was not safe for them either.”
While Michigan’s weather can be unpredictable, and is by no means easy to handle, at the end of the day when roads are unsafe, parking lots and sidewalks slick, and hallways slippery, student and staff safety should be of utmost importance.

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