Fairfield schools to reopen Wednesday

All public, private and parochial schools in Fairfield will reopen Wednesday, Feb. 13.

“Families are asked to take precautions at school bus stops,” according to an announcement posted at fairfieldschools.org. “If neighbors can organize carpooling, it would be most helpful.”

Earlier Tuesday officials said they hoped to have schools open Wednesday, but said that decision may not be possible until 5:30 a.m. Wednesday.

“We can’t just clear out one entrance,” Schools Supt. Dr. David Title said following a meeting of the Fairfield Emergency Operations Center Tuesday. “We have to clear enough entryways to meet the fire code.”

Public Works crews have been working since Friday to clear roads throughout town. While most of the town is now accessible, areas such as school parking lots were a secondary priority, but are getting their treatment today.

Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo said plowing the lots wouldn’t make much sense without making sure the roads were cleared first. The walk areas around Fairfield’s schools also require proper attention and in many cases more thorough clearing than is required for sidewalks and walkways in other parts of town.

DPW crews also need to check on the roofs to make sure the school buildings have not suffered damage or are in danger of collapsing. Of particular concern is the roof at Ludlowe High School. Students were sent home on Feb. 1 after high winds damaged the school’s roof, causing a leak that damaged 10 classrooms on the second floor.

Title noted the sealant membrane on Ludlowe’s roof was repaired before the storm hit, but not fully. It is unclear at the moment if it is sufficient to keep the large amount of melting snow at bay.

On the positive side, he imagines the sealant layer is at least still in place under all the snow.

“It shouldn’t have blown away, it’s pinned down pretty good,” Title said.

With the potential for classes to resume Wednesday, commuters are asked to be extra careful. While all of the town’s roads should be passable by the end of today, some may still be narrow lanes. Snow banks will also still be high and blocking visibility.

This may create a special challenge for buses that can’t get down streets on their usual routes. First Selectman Michael Tetreau said the storm changed driving routes, and therefore driving patterns.

Drivers should keep a close eye for things that are out of the ordinary on their morning drive, from buses to pedestrians.

To emphasize the point, Tetreau noted the family of four in Milford struck while walking along Bridgeport Avenue. Two people remain in critical condition.

In other areas of Fairfield, DPW crews continue to work on clearing the roads. By the end of Tuesday, all roads should be plowed, but lanes will be narrow on many. Unlike emergency services, the town does not have multiple shifts for DPW and many of them have been working 12-hour shifts with 8-hour breaks to eat and sleep interspersed.

Tetreau also emphasized that DPW crews did not shut down to wait out the storm. They began working on maintenance and clearing on Friday and have not quit since then.

Police and fire personnel have returned to regular shifts.

There is some concern that more light snow may come in the next few days. Michelangelo believes a small amount, 2 inches or less, could be dealt with preemptively with road salt. More than that however will require more plowing.

There is also a large question mark hanging over the weekend. Another storm may be headed this way, but it is too early to know for certain if it will hit Fairfield. If it does, estimates range as high as another 10 inches could be deposited on the region.

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