Many parents can’t afford snow days, and kids have cabin fever

Posted at 7:51 PM, Jan 23, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-23 21:58:02-05

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Metro-area students have been out of school all week, with Monday being a holiday, and patience, along with wallets, are stretched thin.

All Richmond-area schools cancelled classes Thursday, and even Friday, because of the frozen snow and ice on neighborhood streets.

"The problem with this area here at the top of the hill, you have Lakewood drive and there's a stop sign you can't see toward our right there," said Carolyn Hope, Henrico's Transportation Supervisor, West Area Zone. "Once the buses stop, they're not going to have enough traction being here on a snow packed area - they're not going to be able to restart that bus to make a right or left there," she explained.

As a veteran bus driver, she's checking for traction and icy conditions on this street leading to Tuckahoe Elementary.

“I know in year's past, I've been out here driving on streets like this and as I approach I'm looking for my students especially those that are running late to the bus. That's my worst nightmare is to have them running toward the bus and have them slip and slide and slide right underneath my bus."

All parents can appreciate the safety and precautionary attitude.

“Parents in particular should keep in mind that school officials make the best decisions they can under the conditions--and I think they make pretty good decisions," Henrico parent Scott Jarad said.

Still, parents said they’re running out of options when it comes to juggling work and the costs of a snow day. And a lot of kids said they are even getting bored, despite all the fun, thanks to a thin coating of snow and ice on the roads that just can’t melt.

Chase Smith attends Byrd Middle School in Henrico but this week he and his little brother get to see a lot more of their mom Eileen than usual.

Eileen Smith said her boss is very understanding.

“I have been allowed to work from home, which has been great, because we have a lot of deadlines with the end of the month coming.”

For that reason Smith is ready for the kids to head back to school.  Even a stay-at-home mom and her son agree that there has been too much time at the house.

During this extended vacation for students many parents are tapping into sick time and vacation days, and according to the Department of Labor, something a lot of moms can’t afford to do.

“Because I’m a part-time worker, I don't have sick days, anything, so, when I don't work…don't get paid,” Melissa Brooks said, as she waited for her husband to get home to take over childcare duties for the evening.

“We've done everything from play dates, neighborhood moms, bring your kid to work, swapping out schedules with my husband, and calling in grandparent reinforcement--all of those options,” she said.

Most economic analysts say there is no accurate way to measure how much productivity is lost due to these snow days.