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Tuesday's snow test: Will schools be able to open Wednesday?

Published 1:39 pm, Tuesday, February 12, 2013
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While they kept a wary eye on the forecast hinting at more snow, Fairfield officials were keeping an even closer watch on the continuing cleanup from the blizzard that dumped 35 inches of snow on town in 24 hours last weekend.

A decision on whether to reopen the town's schools -- closed since Friday -- was still hanging in the balance Tuesday morning.

"We have a full staff of 95 maintenance workers and custodians who are trying to clear the entrances to all the schools," Superintendent of Schools David Title said.

Paths to enough doorways at each school building have to be cleared to meet fire codes, he said, and roofing contractors are checking on potential hazards to school roofs posed by the heavy snow. "That will take most of the day," Title said. He noted that six of the school roofs have been improved in the last two years, and the roof at Fairfield Ludlowe High School that was damaged in a recent wind storm has been repaired "to the point it was water-tight."

Another Tuesday cleanup goal is getting two travel lanes open to traffic on all streets, and removing snow from cul-de-sacs.

"The roads are coming along fine," said Public Works Director Joseph Michelangelo. "We don't think that they're going to be a problem."

He said payloaders are needed at the school lots to clear away the huge amount of snow, but he expressed confidence that roads will be "bus ready" for Wednesday.

Police Chief Gary MacNamara cautioned motorists to be extremely careful when schools reopen, being mindful of students walking to school and waiting at bus stops along the narrower streets lines with high banks of snow.

"The snow has changed the driving landscape," he said."

First Selectman Michael Tetreau refuted rumors that the town's DPW crews stopped working and were sent home Friday night. "They worked all day Friday, Friday night, Saturday morning and Saturday," he said. "They did not get called off the road."

Michelangelo said the first shift for the 73 DPW workers that started Friday morning lasted for 38 hours. He said the DPW crews are now working 12 hour shifts.