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 Karen Smith (Communications)
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From: Monday, November 6, 2017 11:29 AM -0500
Subject:Inclement Weather Guidelines
To:
The Limestone District School Board works with KFL&A Public Health regarding extreme weather that might affect students and staff attending our schools. Schools within Limestone follow the guidance of KFL&A Public Health. When an extreme heat or extreme cold weather alert or warning is issued, each school will take appropriate precautions. It is important to note that decisions are usually made on a case-by-case basis as weather conditions can vary greatly within our district.

Extreme cold:

KFL&A Public Health uses predetermined temperature and wind chill values to inform the community when the weather could be harmful. The Cold Weather Response Plan is designed to reduce the health impacts and risks associated with extreme cold weather events. It includes: monitoring Environment Canada's weather forecasts between November 1 and April 1, and notifying the community when extreme cold temperatures and values are reached. Sometimes, the cold weather requires schools to keep students indoors for recess. Generally, if the temperature is forecast to be -25C or -28C with the windchill, children are kept inside. The school principal, however, always has discretion.

Busing:

Busing is coordinated by Tri-Board Transportation Services, a student busing consortium formed by the Limestone District School Board, Algonquin & Lakeshore Catholic District School Board & Hastings & Prince Edward School Board. Tri-Board operates bus routes across the region in Napanee, Kingston & The Islands, Sharbot Lake, Belleville, Picton, and Bancroft.

Bus drivers, operators and municipal roads officials assess weather and road conditions between 4-5 a.m. on school days using a variety of data including accredited weather forecasters such as Environment Canada. They then report any conditions or issues that might affect the safe transportation of students to Tri-Board Transportation who will make a determination on busing around 5:30/6 a.m. Decisions sometimes happen quickly and can be different across the district based on different circumstances or conditions. This includes a decision after 5:30/6 a.m. based on changing or worsening weather and/or road conditions. Tri-Board and the school boards makes their decisions with the best information available at the time. The guiding principle in making these decisions is always the safety of students, staff and volunteers working at our schools and centres.

Schools usually stay open when buses are cancelled. Schools remain open because some schools have many walking students or students who are dropped off by parents/guardians. Also, many parents do not have emergency/alternate child-care arrangements for children if schools are closed. If a student who normally walks or is dropped off chooses to remain home, please ensure you notify the school of the absence. Bused students do not need to contact the school.

Tri-Board then notifies affected school boards and families via a variety of methods. Parents may sign up for direct notification of delays and cancellations on Tri-Board’s website which they may receive via email or text message. This information is also shared via TriBoard’s cancellation/delay Twitter account and its Facebook page, and often by local radio stations. The Board also shares delay and cancellation information its website and Twitter account. The definitive source for cancellations is always Tri-Board.

Should a system-wide shutdown be recommended, Tri-Board then consults with the Directors of Education with area school boards to determine a plan of action and any required contingencies. Tri-Board makes its decisions based on the best information it has at the time. Schools remain open when buses are cancelled unless otherwise stated. When buses are cancelled in the morning, they are cancelled for the entire day. If children are dropped off at school when buses are cancelled, they must be picked up by a parent or guardian or alternate approved contact person at the end of the school day.

Early Dismissal/School Closures:

While the decision to cancel buses occurs somewhat regularly throughout the school year based on weather and road conditions, the closure of schools is an infrequent and extraordinary measure. A decision to close schools is not taken lightly but is made when student safety and staff safety is at potential risk.

Sometimes, closures are the result of extended interruptions or failures of infrastructure, utilities or other building systems. Sometimes, closures are required when weather, road or other conditions might affect the safe transportation of students or staff – regardless of whether that transportation is by school bus, by vehicle, or by foot. Walkers, for example, might also be at risk should they have to contend with slippery sidewalks and/or the crossing of slippery roads and intersections.

Decisions on community use of schools (school rentals) are made on a case-by-case basis, however, usually if buses are cancelled, community use is also cancelled. It is best to confirm with individual schools.

Emergency contact information:

In the event of early dismissal and/or school closures, it is imperative that schools have updated emergency contact information for all students. Families are asked to fill out emergency contact information at the beginning of the school year. It is essential that any changes to this information are provided to the school as soon as possible, if and when it changes. This includes change to address, telephone (home, work and cell phones), and those appointed by parents/guardians as alternate emergency contacts.

Schools must be able to reach parents/guardians to confirm that students are able to take the bus or walk home in emergency situations. Schools cannot do this without updated contact information. Also, it is important families think carefully about who they choose as an emergency contact. It should be someone who is able to make a decision regarding your child(ren) and/or pick up that child from school as soon as possible should you be unavailable.

While some school staff remain on site to ensure all students are bused and/or picked up safely, the safe arrival home of staff is also an important consideration.