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St. Paul school buses delayed, stranding some students for hours; district closed Tuesday

Community members get together to help get a school bus unstuck near Central Avenue and Grotto Street in St. Paul during a snow storm in St. Paul on Monday, Jan. 22, 2018. Eventually a tow truck was called to help pull the school bus out of the snow. (John Autey / Pioneer Press)

Hundreds of St. Paul students were stranded at school Monday afternoon after the day’s snowstorm delayed their buses — in some cases by more than five hours.

As of 9 p.m., some students were still at school waiting to be picked up, said Toya Stewart Downey, spokeswoman for St. Paul Public Schools. Several parents and teachers reported that a handful of students remained at school until nearly 11 p.m.

The district has canceled classes on Tuesday.

“Saint Paul Public Schools offers its sincerest apologies to the students, staff and the families who were impacted by buses that were delayed by many hours,” the district said in a news release. “We know that it was both a concern and a hardship for those whose children arrived home several hours after the school day had ended. We are immensely thankful for the staff that remained at the schools to care for our students well into the evening hours.”

Monday’s forecast called for up to 10 inches of snow in some parts of the Twin Cities, which prompted some districts to cancel classes. SPPS did not.

Several people voiced complaints about the decision on the the district’s Facebook page.

“The decision to keep the District open today (Jan. 22) was based on the forecast and what we believed was the best course of action for our students,” the district’s statement said. “Had we known that the City of Saint Paul was going to get up to 8 inches of snow between 2 and 6 p.m., SPPS may have taken a different course of action.”

The district alerted parents to the busing delays with automated phone messages.

The district said that because of Monday’s situation and the likelihood of continuing difficult transportation conditions, all school and school-related activities would be canceled Tuesday.

Minneapolis Public Schools also announced Monday night that Tuesday classes would be canceled.

Many parents and concerned citizens took to social media to voice their frustrations with the district. Some took the chance to thank teachers, staff and bus drivers for helping students through the ordeal.