CESD Inclement Weather

With the safety of students, staff and parents our highest priority, our Board of Trustees has supported our plan to close schools on extreme weather days when traveling is deemed unsafe for everyone.

To that end, Central Office has developed a procedure (AP 1-13) that will allow school closures to involve a single school, a community of schools or the entire school division. To keep our discussion relatively simple, we believe there are essentially three types of travel days that occur in our Division. We have coded these days Green (all clear), Yellow (use caution), and Red (unsafe).

Green days – the days when it is clearly safe for everyone to travel. All buses are running and all of our schools are open.

Yellow days – the days when buses might not run in some or all areas of the Division, but schools remain open. On Yellow days, we anticipate that the majority of staff members will be able to drive to their schools and that meaningful learning will take place.  (i.e. There may be a small minority of staff who choose not to travel because they have deemed their unique route unsafe.) Note: if a bus is cancelled because of inclement weather in the morning, it is cancelled for the entire day and will not run in the afternoon either.

  • Parents of bus students are asked to contact your school to confirm your child will be absent on Yellow Days. Some parents may choose to drive their child into the school when their school bus isn’t running, while some parents will choose to keep their child at home that day – schools cannot make assumptions when safety is at stake.

Red days – A given school, area or the entire Division will be closed. These are days when we are faced with extremely cold temperatures, or a full-blown blizzard, or when we have a combination of heavy snow, high winds, and very low visibility. On Red days, to ensure the safety of our staff, parents, and licensed older students, we feel we need to close schools not only for students, but also for staff. This decision will be made in consultation with school administrators whenever possible. We believe this is the best way to ensure everyone’s safety. It is important to note that a Red day may exist for one school, for one area (i.e. all Sundre Schools), or for the entire Division. Staff will be expected to conduct their work from home as much as possible and, for emergency purposes only, we will be asking our schools to do what they can to have at least one staff member onsite on school closure days to ensure that no students are inadvertently dropped off at the front door of a school.

How will Yellow Days be announced?

When a decision is made to cancel a bus route or all the bus routes, parents of bus students can expect to receive an automated call from your Bus Driver and/or Division Office. Information will be posted to Facebook and Twitter, the Division website and individual school websites at affected schools. Area radio stations will only be notified if buses are cancelled in an entire area or community, or in the whole division.

How will Red Days be announced?

As early as possible on the Inclement Weather day (prior to 7:00 a.m. whenever possible), parents at affected schools will be sent a voicemail, email and text message using our CESD automated communication system. It is, therefore, vital that your school has your current contact information. In addition, messaging will be shared via Facebook, Twitter, area radio stations, and will be posted to the division website and individual school websites for those schools affected.

 

FAQs: CESD Inclement Weather Procedures

When extreme weather requires adjustments to our bus schedules, it immediately impacts the school day. When the entire division is impacted, it can also create confusion. This is compounded when neighbouring school divisions make different decisions, according to their geographical areas and division procedures. Thank you for your patience, as we continue to navigate the challenges that winter can throw at us. We have compiled the answers to some frequently asked questions for further clarity:

Why would the school division proceed with learning on Yellow days when buses are not running?
On Yellow days, the majority of our students, parents and staff have safe transportation to school. For example, consider a scenario where our buses are unable to operate because the temperature is -37 degrees Celsius. Because approximately 65% of our students live in town, and many of our rural parents may choose to drive their child to school on Yellow days, we may have as many as 80-90% of our students with safe transportation to our schools. To have the majority of our students present and willing to learn, and then not proceed with teaching and learning, is unfair to the students in attendance. Our highest priority is safety, and we weigh this alongside our goal to provide learning in all our schools to the extent possible during challenging weather conditions. We rely on the professional judgment of our teachers to determine how learning can continue during those days when attendance is impacted. If there are fewer students, teachers may choose to enrich learning instead of moving ahead. At upper grades where meeting the curriculum expectations are paramount, teachers may be required to continue with their lessons as planned and assist students with the learning when they return.

Will my child be penalized for missing school on Yellow days?
On Yellow days, the weather has been deemed unsafe for bus students to be waiting outside, for buses to maintain comfortable levels of heat for passengers, and for us to ensure the mechanical performance of the buses themselves. Personal vehicles don’t usually face the same mechanical challenges as large school buses in cold temperatures, but parents and staff are encouraged to use their discretion when deciding whether to drive themselves on Yellow days, and we understand if they choose not to drive in the conditions. Teachers will assist students to catch up upon their return, just like they do when students are absent for other legitimate reasons such as illness or medical appointments. We respect the judgment of our teachers in this regard, and appreciate their extra efforts when weather causes this type of disruption. In the end, parents should never feel guilty about keeping their child home, even if the school is open on a Yellow day.

Under what circumstances would the Division make different decisions for different schools or communities?
Chinook’s Edge covers a large area and weather conditions often vary across the division. Therefore, it may be necessary to cancel bus service only in the localized area affected by inclement weather conditions. As well, we have some schools with fewer than 10% rural bus riders and others with more than 80%, which may play a role in assessing a Yellow day or a Red day for a specific school or community.

When the forecast calls for a storm, could you cancel bus routes the night before?
Although forecasters are becoming more accurate in predicting weather conditions, there are still times when the actual weather is different from what was forecast. If we cancel buses based on a forecast and then the weather is significantly better than expected, we lose an important day of learning without a good reason. A morning cancelation allows us to respond to actual weather conditions.