Pam Hansen/WCPS Columnist Pam Hansen/WCPS Columnist

COLUMN: Safety is WCPS top concern when choosing to close schools due to severe winter weather

Winter in Alberta sometimes means our schools will be dealing with lots of snow

We know winter in Alberta sometimes means our schools will be dealing with lots of snow and very cold temperatures.

As the Wolf Creek Public School Division (WCPS) Board of Trustees, we want to ensure all those WCPS school families and all those who ride a WCPS bus to school that safety of students is our primary concern, especially on winter days with severe weather. WCPS uses Administrative Procedure (AP) 132: Closure of Schools Due to Inclement Weather to guide decisions about school closures and bus cancellations due to extreme weather, and we know school closure can pose an inconvenience for some families.

Let me share some information on how these decisions are made.

If conditions are dangerous to the degree WCPS won’t run its buses, we also believe that conditions are not safe for students to travel to school. Those conditions are determined through a few ways, and are outlined in AP 132: Closure of Schools Due to Inclement Weather. But most notably, buses are cancelled when the ambient air temperature is -40°C, or with dangerous road conditions and/or poor visibility. When all buses are cancelled, schools are closed.

Closure and cancellations are considered when the air temperature is between -30°C and -40°C with wind chills over -40°C. Our transportation manager and superintendent evaluate many factors, which includes the official Environment Canada conditions and forecast, along with a network of contacts across the Division. This evaluation begins as early as 4 a.m. on days when inclement weather is forecast.

In cases such as fog, or freezing rain, where conditions are expected to improve, buses may be cancelled in the morning, but schools remain open. Buses would then take students home at the end of the school day.

As mentioned, from time-to-time concerns are raised from families over cancelling of school, and we understand those concerns. WCPS plans for more hours than the required instructional hours (950 in grades 1-9, and 1,000 in grades 10-12) in order to buffer in the event of school closures. The Division has used AP 132 for decades and is consistent in administering it. WCPS schools have only been closed an average of 2.5 days per year over the last eight years due to inclement weather.

There are many ways to learn more about this procedure, and stay updated through the winter months. First the Division sends direct communication to parents in the event of inclement weather. The information is also posted on the Division website — wolfcreek.ab.ca — and on the Wolf Creek Public School Facebook and Twitter pages (which I encourage parents to follow). The full AP 132 and specific information on its use is also available on our Division website. It can be found in the menu under School Division, and under the Transportation subhead.

We value your input and would invite any feedback throughout the school year, as we work as partners for the safety of students and a successful school year.

Pamela Hansen is Board Chair of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS). WCPS Board of Trustees consists of six trustees representing the communities and rural areas of Alix, Bentley, Blackfalds, Bluffton, Clive, Eckville, Lacombe, Ponoka, and Rimbey. Serving approximately 7,300 students, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, WCPS employs approximately 412 teachers and 350 support staff in 30 schools, including five colony schools, throughout the Division.

-Submitted by Wolf Creek Public Schools

Just Posted

Former NHLer Clint Malarchuk shares mental health journey in Lacombe

Former goalie and current mental health advocate supports Schizophrenia Society of Alberta

Lacombe Composite High School students organize climate change walk-out

Walk-out a show of solidarity with International Climate Activist Greta Thunberg

Yellow Door Dance donation supports purchase of a grand piano for the Lacombe Performing Arts Centre

Grand piano to be able to accommodate a broader range of concerts and performances

Lacombe County, Village of Clive sign Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Municipalities that share a common boundary must create an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Lacombe County, Village of Alix sign Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

Municipalities that share a common boundary must create an Intermunicipal Collaboration Framework

WATCH: 6th Bill’s Trail Run welcomes over 450 runners

Run advocates for the use and upkeep of Lacombe’s trails

Greta Thunberg meets with First Nations chief in Fort McMurray

Thunberg has turned her protest against climate change into a global movement

More beef products recalled due to possible E. coli contamination

The food safety watchdog has been investigating possible E. coli 0157:H7

Pot legalization has gone ‘well’, but ‘yellow flags’ on vaping: task force chair

Canada legalized cannabis for non-medical use on Oct. 17, 2018,

ELECTION 2019: Federal leaders hit final 24 hours of campaign

Many leaders remain in B.C. for the final hours of the campaign

Leaders pour it on with rallies, boosts for candidates as campaign reaches peak

The federal election campaign has reached a crescendo

Not a political question: Thunberg calls for climate action in Alberta

Edmonton police estimated the size of the crowd at about 4,000

Most Read