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School bus struck by snow plow, minivan near Kirkland

KIRKLAND – No one was injured when a snow plow truck and a minivan hit a school bus that had slid into a ditch about 8 a.m. Friday near Kirkland, authorities said.

The driver of the school bus for Hiawatha School District 426 drove north on Malta Road and slowed down to pass the ice-covered roadway, according to a DeKalb County Sheriff's Office news release. The bus slid into a ditch north of Baseline Road near Kirkland. 

There were 22 students in the bus ranging from five to 14, according to the news release.

While the school bus was stuck in the ditch, the back of the bus was hit by a snow plow truck spreading salt on the road. Then, the bus was struck again when a southbound minivan slid on the icy road and slid into the bus.

Hiawatha Superintendent Sarah Willey said the school bus is not severely damaged and is still driveable. Most of the students in the bus came back to the school and parents were free to retrieve them, she said. 

"Many of the students wanted to stay because of the parties; because it was the last day of school [before winter break,]" she said. 

She considered not holding school Friday but after conferring with the Franklin Township road commissioner at roughly 5 a.m., she decided to keep school open because the conditions didn't seem to warrant closing it.

Rockford and Belvidere school officials canceled school there Friday, while Sycamore, DeKalb and Genoa districts remained in session, she said. 

She said it was ultimately her decision to keep the school open and she was glad no one was injured. 

"I was very grateful for that," she said. "There were some parents who appreciated we tried to hold school open and some of course who didn't like it." 

She said she figured the weather conditions must have changed between the time she spoke with the road commissioner and when the school bus was on the road. She said she hasn't received too many angry phone calls from parents. 

"The majority of parents understand the situation," she said. "This is the weather in Illinois and you can't always make the perfect decision."

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