BY TREENA MIELKE
Chinook’s Edge School Division is taking a proactive approach towards ensuring the safety of its students and staff during inclement winter weather.
Kurt Sacher, Superintendent of Schools, said days when there are blizzard conditions or visibility is low to nil will be coded red and schools will be closed.
“On the rare day that happens, it is unsafe for anyone to be travelling and we will not be open for any kind of services.”
The decision to call a code red day will be made in consultation with school administrators whenever possible, he added.
A red day may exist for one school or one area or for the entire division. During a red day, staff are expected to conduct their work from home as much as possible, and, for emergency purposes only, schools will be asked to have at least one staff member on site to ensure that no students are inadvertently dropped off at the front door of a school.
To ensure word gets out when a red day is declared, staff and parents will receive a voice, e-mail and text message using Alert Solutions as early as 6:30 a.m. Messaging will also be shared via Facebook, Twitter, local radio stations and school and division websites.
Days when caution is advised while travelling have been coded yellow days.
On yellow days, busses may not run in some or all areas of the division, but schools will remain open. It is anticipated that the majority of staff members will be able to drive to their schools, although some staff may deem their unique route unsafe, on those days.
Yellow days could be when county roads need more time for snow removal to allow busses safe access to turnarounds, yet other vehicles can still make safe passage through rural roads. Temporary conditions such as fog, freezing rain or low temperatures which later give way to safe travelling conditions, meaning staff and parents can travel safely by arriving a little later, also fall under the yellow day code.
Sacher noted that schools would remain open during days when the temperature is too cold for a propane bus to operate, but rural students could arrive safely at the school if being transported by vehicle.
“Because approximately 63 per cent of our students live in town and many of our rural parents can drive students to school on these days, we would anticipate that as many as 90 per cent of our students would have safe transportation to our schools. To have the majority of our students present and willing to learn and not proceed with teaching and learning would not be fair to the students in attendance.”
Teachers will help students catch up when they are forced to miss school because of the weather, he added.
“In addition, we will encourage a greater use of technology such as e-mail and school websites to share information and assignments with students who are away.”
Sacher noted varying weather conditions mean the division will make different decisions for the schools within its jurisdiction.
“When extreme weather conditions are localized, there may be a need to approach a certain school or community differently. In addition, we have some schools with fewer than 10 per cent rural bus riders and we have other schools with more than 80 per cent. The percentage of rural bus riders may also play a role in assessing a red day or a yellow day for a specific school or community.”
The school board coded times when it is clearly safe for travel as green days.