School division has policies in place for cold weather

EAST CENTRAL — School will remain open within the Horizon School Division, but there’s a certain temperature when school buses stop running.

“When we reach a temperature of -40°C, or -45°C with a wind chill, our buses are required to not run. That's something that is in keeping with the safety of students,” said Kevin Garinger, the division's director of education, “as well as staff.”

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On Jan. 15, the temperature was -32°C but it felt like -43°C with the windchill. The next day, forecasts predicted it would be -25°C but feel like -38°C with the windchill.

“[Even] when those numbers aren't reached, we still rely on our drivers to use their best judgment as they deem whether or not they're able to run in [certain] weather conditions,” Garinger said.

Those conditions include blizzards, fog, poor visibility, freezing rain and other unsafe road conditions.

The director said because the division is around 35,000 square kilometers, it’s impossible for a division-wide decision to be made when it comes to weather.

Should dangerous weather conditions arise during the day while the students are in school and it is not possible for an end of the school day departure, then students will be billeted, states division policy.

Garinger said there’s no situations where schools are shut down unless they have no heat, water or similar essentials.

“The rationale behind that is that we need to make sure that if parents need to have children brought to school, we don't want them being dropped off and having nobody there to support them, to ensure that they are provided safe access to the school.”

In extreme weather conditions, Garinger said school staff are able to use their best judgment in terms of whether or not they can they can get to school, with procedures in place to be able to manage those situations.

Bus cancellations can be found on the division's web site here.

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