Foggy day schedules impact Valley schools

REEDLEY, Calif. (KFSN) -- School districts here in the Central Valley are tacking on more foggy day schedules with some experiencing more fog in January alone than they did all of last year. For some, it's cutting into student class time. School administrators are tracking the fog daily and some are bracing for the potential to add on instructional time at the end of the year. Districts are now making sure students are getting the classroom time they need during foggy day schedules.

Many here in the Central Valley have been happy to see the rain this year but what comes with it is fog. School districts say they've seen more fog this winter than they've seen in years.

Kings Canyon Unified's Director of Transportation Jason Flores gets up by 5 a.m. every morning. He checks whether the fog is too thick for buses to pick up children. Flores said, "Anything lower than 200 feet I must have procedures and protocol in place and that's when I have foggy day schedules." When visibility gets to less than 500 feet, all buses must legally activate their strobe lights.

This year, Flores says the fog has been a problem. Flores said, "I haven't seen fog like this in many, many years. It's really, really thick. I remember as a young boy it was foggy almost every day and I feel that that's back."

Kings Canyon Unified covers a wide area from Reedley and Orange Cove all the way up to Dunlap. For this district, a foggy day schedule still means school starts on time, it's the buses that run late. Administrators worry most about high school students who may miss out on the first two periods of the day but it would take a lot of foggy day schedules for them to add on instructional time to the end of the year.

Mary Ann Carousso, Administrator of Student Services for Kings Canyon Unified School District, said, "If we had 15 days called I would call the Transportation Director and say, 'Come in and let's talk about exactly what plans were called. Let me talk to the school site principals.'"

Last year, Kings Canyon Unified had only one foggy day schedule, compared to six so far this school year. Kingsburg Elementary School District didn't have any foggy day schedules last year. This year they've had eight. Kings Unified officials say if they get four or five more foggy school delays they may need to look at adding on instructional time or more days to the end of the year. With fog expected through February, that could be possible.

As always, school officials advise parents to use their best judgment when it comes to the fog and only send their kids to class when they feel it's safe.

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