Administrative Procedures

Severe Weather

Health & Safety AP 750

Background

Alberta experiences significant temperature changes. Cold temperatures, wind chill, snow and ice, or severe storms can potentially be detrimental to an individual’s safety. Ultimately, parents hold the responsibility for deciding to send a child to the bus stop or to school even though buses and schools may be operational.

The Superintendent, in consultation with the Director of Transportation Services, may suspend or curtail school bus service to any school or schools and/or close schools when weather conditions constitute a hazard to the safety of students.

Procedures

Severe weather determination:

1. Any of the following factors, or a combination of them, shall serve as an indicator that severe weather conditions exist:

1.1.  Temperature, experienced with or without wind-chill, of -40°C or below;

1.2.  Visibility of less than one (1) kilometer;

1.3.  Reports from bus drivers and/or counties or municipalities that rural roads are, or will soon be, impassable; and/or

1.4.  Notification of severe weather through Alberta Emergency Alert.

Safe transportation evaluation:

2. When preparing a recommendation for transportation continuation or cancellation for the Superintendent, the Director of Transportation Services shall solicit advice:

2.1. From the Parkland School Division Transportation Safety Officer;
2.2. From a sampling of experienced bus drivers;
2.3. From similarly affected neighbouring school jurisdictions regarding their plans; and 2.4. From Environment Canada and/or Alberta Transportation when available.

3. After carefully evaluating the weather, the Superintendent or designate shall determine the extent to which transportation services are limited or cancelled or, in extreme cases, the extent to which schools are closed.

Cancellation of transportation services:

4. The Superintendent or designate determines that it is necessary to cancel transportation in consultation with the Director of Transportation Services.

5. The Director of Transportation Services shall arrange for the school bus drivers to be notified immediately.

6. The Superintendent, or designate, shall initiate an expedited spread of appropriate information to the schools, families and regional transportation partners, through electronic mass distribution (i.e. emergency contact services) and appropriate local media.

Regarding emergent severe weather with the potential to impact schooling:

Whereas our severe inclement weather typically may cause the cancellation of transportation with schools remaining open for learning, the weather may become severe enough to require an early dismissal or closure of the school. School closure would only be considered in extreme circumstances, and should not be confused with the cancellation of transportation.

7. In the event of emergent severe weather, an early dismissal may be deemed to be necessary in extreme circumstances and approved by the Superintendent or designate:

7.1.  The Principal shall consult with the Superintendent or designate to determine the potential utilization of the school’s alternate emergency site; and

7.2.  The Principal shall ensure that effective planning and appropriate parent contact occurs so that all students are safely delivered to a parent or guardian in a prudent and timely manner.

8. In the event of emergent, severe weather necessitating the closure of a school or schools:

8.1.  Transportation services shall be cancelled as per section 4-6; and

8.2.  The school building shall remain open, when possible, 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.

Learning considerations during transportation cancellation:

Severe inclement weather, that necessitates the cancellation of transportation services, will also have a significant impact on families and the safe conveyance of students to schools. Our intention is to maintain learning, while providing options for our families with the highest regard for safety.

When transportation is cancelled, Parkland School Division’s schools shall remain open for learning. Teaching and learning opportunities during transportation cancellation will vary depending on the number of students who are learning from home, balanced with the number of students who are able to attend school, and this may differ from class to class or grade to grade within schools across the Division. Communication about any inclement weather learning plans may be provided in advance of cancellation in situations where there is sufficient time provided for a severe weather notice. Sometimes, however, it may not be possible to provide learning plans in advance of the transportation cancellation.

Generally speaking, teachers will attend to supporting student learning with the following considerations:

9. Teachers shall endeavour to balance the learning-outcome requirements of students who have arrived at school with the learning-outcome requirements of students who are remaining at home. Notably:

9.1. Teachers may distribute new or ongoing learning tasks through familiar online platforms and/or monitor and support learning tasks already in process; and

9.2. Teachers may check-in with students when possible and prudent to do so:

9.2.1. The check-in process may vary depending on the quantity of students at home versus the quantity of students at school; and

9.2.2. Parents shall not expect that synchronous learning (learning at the same time as the class) is available, given that teachers may also be responsible for students who are at school.

10. Parkland School Division shall adhere to Alberta Education’s guidelines with regard to missed Diploma Examinations or Provincial Achievement Tests.

With respect to the severe weather protocol at school:

11. The Principal may cancel outdoor activities at any time when considered prudent to do so.

12. Students shall remain inside due to the automatic cancellation of outdoor activities and/or recess activities:

12.1.1.  At any temperature below -23 Celsius.

12.1.2.  During rainfall that is occurring to the point of impacting students’ well-being or ability to play.

13. The Principal may approve offsite or occasional activities beyond the thresholds set in (5) above, as per Administrative Procedure 280 – Offsite Activities.

 

Approved: 

signature

Date Approved: February 8, 2021

Reference: Education Act: 33, 196 
Employment Standards Act
Public Weather Information Office (Edmonton)

Reviewed or Revised:
Executive: February, 2021

References shall be updated as required and do not require additional approval.