Pam Hansen/WCPS Columnist                                Pam Hansen/WCPS Columnist

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said on Thursday that the province has seen its first case of the B.1.617 variant. (Photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Red Deer nears record number of active COVID-19 cases

Alberta reports 1,857 new cases of COVID-19, 1,326 new variants

People line up outside an immunization clinic to get their Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in Edmonton, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta passes bill to give all workers paid leave to get COVID-19 vaccine shot

Labour Minister Jason Copping says Bill 71 will reduce barriers for Alberta workers to get vaccinated

Alberta completed 18,412 COVID-19 tests, as reported on Wednesday, for a test positivity rate of 9.5 per cent. (NIAID-RML via AP)
Highest daily count of 2021 so far: Alberta reports 1,699 COVID-19 cases

Variants now make up 59 per cent of Alberta’s active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw and Premier Jason Kenney say the province would look at adding additional COVID-19 measures in the coming weeks if the virus continues to spread. (Photo by Government of Alberta)
Walk-in COVID-19 vaccination clinic to open in Red Deer

Alberta adds 1,345 new cases of the virus

Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and vacation bookings are being increased in B.C. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: B.C. announces signage along Alberta border to discourage non-essential travel

B.C. extends COVID-19 indoor dining, group fitness ban until May 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

A health care worker prepares to test a Coastal GasLink field worker for COVID-19. (Coastal GasLink photo)
Alberta bill would protect health workers, care homes from some COVID-19 lawsuits

The bill proposes exempting a range of workers, including doctors, pharmacists and care-home operators, from being sued over COVID-19 unless it was for gross negligence

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Education Minister Adriana LaGrange was in Red Deer on Friday to provide an update on the province's COVID-19 response in schools.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Alberta government aiming to boost financial literacy among students

Government providing grants to organizations who will help design financial literacy programming

President Joe Biden holds a virtual bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
U.S. to help Canada with more COVID-19 vaccine supply, Biden says

The U.S. has already provided Canada with about 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine

In this image from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, center, is taken into custody as his attorney, Eric Nelson, left, looks on, after the verdicts were read at Chauvin’s trial for the 2020 death of George Floyd, Tuesday, April 20, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Court TV via AP, Pool
George Floyd’s death was ‘wake-up call’ about systemic racism: Trudeau

Derek Chauvin was found guilty Tuesday on all three charges against him

sign
Alberta Biobord Corp. recently hosted a virtual open house from Stettler

The company plans to develop a fuel pellet and medium density fibre board (MDF) plant near the community

Most Read