Staff members suffer difficult commutes in the snow

Wednesday brought snow showers and icy roads, but Westport Public Schools remained open, even though virtually every other Fairfield County school had either an early dismissal or full snow day. While students struggled through the weather yesterday on their way home from school, many with unfavorable results, the staff of Staples had their own troubles on the road. Although students had the option to take the bus home in order to stay safe, teachers had no such option.

Most Westport teachers live out of town, some more than an hour away in normal conditions.

Despite being regarded as more experienced on the road than students, the weather yesterday did not discriminate and proved to be just as challenging to adults.

Kristin Scott, a science teacher, was not in school yesterday but was driving back from New York. She explained that her drive home, typically an hour and half long, took her double the time: three hours. Scott may not have been coming home from Staples, but still experienced the roads at around 2:30, the same time that students and teachers were making their way back home.

“The back roads of Westport were simply not plowed,” Scott said. “I drive a Jeep Grand Cherokee with all wheel drive and we were slipping and sliding.”

Art teacher Camille Eskell braved her way through the weather yesterday on her commute home to South Norwalk, but was not as fortunate as Scott, who avoided any accident or contact with one. “I almost spun out and the guy in front of me did also…I was trying to get on [route] 95…and I fell on him and that was a little scary,” Eskell said. In order to stay safe on the roads, Eskell maintained a cautious speed. “I went slow.” She estimated it took her twice as long as usual to get home.

Although science teacher Anthony Coccoli was among the others commuting on the messy roads yesterday, he accepted the decision made by superintendent Elliott Landon. “It’s not fun to commute in the snow. However, the reality is is that it’s a job that we have to do, and if our superintendent says we have to have school, then we have to have school,” he said.

Coccoli saw more of an issue in the safety of the roads and sidewalks around the school when Westport is faced with bad weather, such as yesterday’s snow. “I would like the sidewalks to be shoveled and in better condition for us [going] in and out of the building,” Coccoli said. Landon may have no control over town and state roads. But, as Coccoli said, the school’s entries are a different matter. “That’s something he has power over.”