Medford schools were scheduled to open today for the first time in nearly a week as snow, ice and frigid temperatures eased their grip on the Rogue Valley long enough for classes to resume.
District Superintendent Phil Long said Tuesday that temperatures appear to have warmed enough to clear more sidewalks and streets of ice, allow more normal flows of traffic and give residents enough chances to dig out following the storm that struck Friday.
Also, the district's regular Wednesday school scheduling helps ease snow-related transportation problems, Long said. The middle and high schools already are scheduled to start two hours late, giving buses extra time to shuttle students to grade schools, which in turn have an early release scheduled for shortly after 1 p.m., he said.
That scheduling made a late start unnecessary, Long said. Avoiding the late start also means morning kindergarten classes will be open.
"If this had been today or Thursday, I may have been more open to a late start," Long said.
Long said that parents who don't think they can safely get their kids to school should keep them home, and those driving their children to school should not rush just to escape a tardy.
Cascade Christian and Grace Christian schools, as well as the Eagle Point School District also announced Tuesday that they will be open today with normal class schedules.
Schools in Ashland, where many of the city's streets remain ice-laden, are closed today, the Ashland School District announced Tuesday afternoon. The Phoenix-Talent School District likewise kept its schools closed today.
The Rogue River School District also announced classes were canceled. St. Mary's School in Medford will open at 11 a.m. Central Point School District will be on a two-hour delay, and buses will use snow routes; there will be no early release today, according to the school website. There will be no kindergarten at Mae Richardson.
Schools throughout the valley have been closed since Friday, when the recent storm slammed into Medford that afternoon. The ensuing single-digit overnight lows and daytime temperatures below freezing have left frozen patches on some roads and sidewalks — most notably McAndrews hill, that steep stretch of East McAndrews Road that has been closed to traffic since Friday.
The city of Medford has closed the road at Tamarack Drive, the base of the 525-foot stretch of McAndrews with a 14 percent grade — steeper than most arterial roads.
"You just literally can't make it up," said Cory Crebbin, director of the city's public works department. "It doesn't even do any good to sand it."
Crebbin said the city closes access to that hill because of multiple crashes during snowy and icy weather, but past closures generally were shorter than a day.
That stretch of McAndrews Road was built in 2002, before Crebbin's tenure. He said he would have recommended alterations to the road's building plan at the time had he been with the city.
The same freezing weather that has shrouded McAndrews hill likewise has kept icy and dangerous spots on city streets — particularly those that don't get direct sunlight, Crebbin said.
"There are some spots so rock-solid the sand just gets knocked right off them," Crebbin said.
Others see partial melting, then refreeze to form an even slicker surface, he said.
The National Weather Service predicts that overnight low temperatures will remain below freezing, but daytime highs should reach into the 40s through Sunday.
Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.