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131

Emergency Closure – Regular School Day

Background

The Superintendent may close schools, cancel or suspend bus service, and/or arrange for the early dismissal of students in situations where the health and safety of students is at risk.

The primary consideration in the event of severe weather conditions shall be the health and safety of students. The Superintendent may suspend or curtail school bus service to any school or schools and/or close schools or cancel classes when weather or road conditions constitute a hazard to the safety of students.

During inclement weather, the final decision to send a child to the bus stop or to school rests with the parents, even though buses and schools may be operational.  Parents are expected to exercise good judgment and care when deciding whether or not to send their child(ren) to school when weather or road conditions are extreme.

Area conditions shall dictate decision-making.  Factors which threaten student health and safety are not always present in all communities at the same time.  Thus, it is often necessary to close a group of schools in one region of the Division or even an individual school while others remain open.  In weather related situations, it is even occasionally necessary to suspend operation of individual bus routes while the schools affected continue to operate.

Blizzards and drifted or icy roads are often the most difficult situations to assess.  These conditions can vary greatly throughout the Division and can appear and disappear over short time spans. The Director of Transportation assesses these situations and puts forth a recommendation to run or to cancel school buses to the Superintendent of Schools.

Procedures

  1. Schools will be closed for students and staff if conditions are such that the students and staff are at a health risk.  Any of the following factors, or combinations of them, shall serve as guides for considering school closure or early dismissal of students:
    1. Loss of power and heat;
    2. Inadequate water supply;
    3. Sewer back-up;
    4. Structural damage to the school building;
    5. Illness epidemic; and/or
    6. Other emergent situations.
  2. Classes may be cancelled from time to time for inclement weather.  Such closures will be announced on the Division website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, school websites and local radio stations.  It is the parents’ responsibility to watch and/or listen for these announcements and to make suitable arrangements for their children.
  3. Any of the following factors, or combinations of them, shall serve as guidelines for considering cancellation of classes or early dismissal of students:
    1. A temperature of -40 degrees or lower (including wind chill) as reported by the Weather Office for the area in question;
    2. Visibility of less than 300 meters as determined by the Public Weather information Office in Edmonton or Grande Prairie; and/or
    3. Advisory reports from police, municipal or other local road officials.
    4. Where the police have made decisions regarding road travel, closure, etc., these shall prevail over any or all other regulations.
  4. Early morning decisions regarding bus service cancellation or cancellation of classes will usually be made prior to 6:30 a.m. or as changing conditions warrant.
    1. After consulting with regional transportation contacts, the Director of Transportation will assess conditions and make a recommendation to the Superintendent to run or cancel bus services.  The Superintendent will decide whether Division operated buses will run.
    2. The Director of Transportation will initiate notification of school principals.
    3. For the cancellation of individual bus runs due to safety/mechanical failure, the bus driver will communicate with the Director of Transportation and ensure contact is made with every parent.
  5. In the event of an emergency school closure of early dismissal:
    1. The principal will:
      1. Consult with the Superintendent;
      2. Notify school personnel and other appropriate people of the decision to close the school or arrange for the early dismissal of students;
      3. In extreme emergency situations, exercise good judgment and decide and act on his/her own; and
      4. Initiate communication fan-outs to ensure proper information is given to parents regarding school closure.
    2. The Director of Transportation or designate will:
      1. Arrange for the school bus drivers to be notified immediately who in turn are responsible for contacting parents; and
      2. Initiate the spread of information to the school community via the “fan out” information system, and to the larger community via social media and the following radio stations:
      3. Radio:
        1. In Valleyview:          CFGP 97.7 Rock, CJXX Big Country 93.1, CKYL YL Country, CKVH, CBC Grande Prairie, Q99
        2. In Fox Creek:          CFGP 97.7 Rock, CJXX Big Country 93.1, CKYL YL Country, CKVH, CBC Grande Prairie, Q99
        3. In Whitecourt:          CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
        4. In Mayerthorpe:       CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
        5. In Sangudo:            CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
        6. In Onoway:              CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
        7. In Rich Valley:         CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
        8. In Alberta Beach:     CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
        9.  In Darwell:               CHED 630 AM, JOE, CISN, CFCW 790 AM, CBC 740, XM 105, Boom 96.7, Mix 96
  6. Parents are not required to send their children to school if, in their judgment, weather or road conditions are detrimental to the safety or well-being of their children.
  7. If classes are cancelled during inclement weather:
    1. The Principal shall ensure that one or more staff members are designated to open the school doors in the event that students do arrive when classes are cancelled.  The school must be accessible for a reasonable period of time;
    2. The school building shall remain open so that any students whose parents cannot be contacted and who have no alternative place to go can remain there under adult supervision, as arranged by the principal, until accommodations can be found;
    3. If buses are sent home early but the school remains operational, the Principal may allow a staff member who is likely to experience major difficulty in reaching home to leave school early.
  8. When weather and/or road conditions are a concern, principals shall consult with the Superintendent prior to approving any school sponsored travel.
  9. Traditionally, the suspension of rural transportation and the severe weather causing the suspension have tended to dramatically reduce the urban student attendance on those days.  In the event of inclement weather causing the cancellation of the transportation services for some students, the following procedures will apply:
    1. Staff shall be on duty if the school is open.
    2. Unless otherwise directed by the Principal, teachers shall be responsible for the direct supervision and instruction of their assigned classes for students not affected by the cancellation of transportation services.
    3. Teachers shall exercise their professional judgment in making the decision to present new material or to undertake supplementary activities when transportation services to the school are cancelled.  If new material is presented, teachers shall make provision for students to attain the objectives of the material missed during their absence.
    4. Principals are to exercise their own judgment in respect of the application of attendance policies in their schools.
  10. In the event of early dismissal of bused students, every student shall be delivered safely to their parents/guardians or are satisfactorily housed.
  11. When conditions are such that it is not safe to send students home by bus, they are to be kept at school until satisfactory arrangements can be made.
  12. At the commencement of the term, principals shall communicate in writing the following information to parents:
    1. The current procedures on Emergency Cancellation or Closing and Inclement Weather;
    2. Advice to the parents that their children are to be dressed warmly in severe weather;
    3. Advice to the parents that they make alternate arrangements for accommodating their children in the event school is closed, classes are cancelled or dismissed early when parents are away.
  13. Staff are required to make a reasonable effort to travel to school if classes are cancelled due to inclement weather or impassable road conditions.
  14. If weather and road conditions place the welfare of staff in some jeopardy in reaching their usual place of residence, the Principal may authorize a staff member to leave prior to normal school closing time.  The Principal must ensure appropriate supervision is maintained. 

References:

Sections 20, 57, 60, 61, 113 School Act

Employment Standards Act

Board Policy 12 Role of the Superintendent

 

Revised August 2018