School board already working on Gunns recommendations

Raissa Tetanish
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TRURO - The local school board is already doing a number of the recommendations Jim Gunn made in response to school storm days, according to the superintendent.

Noel Hurley said on Friday there isn't one of the six recommendations the Chignecto Central Regional School Board isn't already doing, or has done.

Gunn was hired by the province after weather systems last winter closed schools throughout the province more times than in previous years.

In Cumberland County, schools were closed county-wide 13 times during the winter.

"In terms of our communications strategies, we use local radio stations and we use our website, which is very much improved. We try to get all of our notices on closures out before students leave for school, for safety point of view, rather than have them out in the weather when there's no need to," said Hurley.

Each school morning during the winter, Hurley said the closure process starts as early as 4:30 a.m.
"We've got a private contracting service that we use for forecasting, with every half-hour forecasting right through our whole region," he said.

With people out on the roads as well, the board has a better sense of what condition the roads are in.

"One of the things we started last year and already implemented this year, is when it's not safe to operate on gravel roads, we still operate on paved roads. We make those announcements early enough so that students can get to the paved roads in their parents' cars."
In the School Storm Days in Nova Scotia: A Discussion Paper, Gunn makes six recommendations, including implementing contingency plans for when a critical number of days are lost. He suggested opening schools later in the day when the weather has improved, but Hurley said there are still complications in doing that.

"When that's been practiced here before, it really created huge difficulties with care giving for people who are working. It's something we've talked about, but at this point in time we haven't decided to implement it," he said.

Another suggestion was to send home work packages, something that Hurley said is done even if a student misses too much time because of health reasons or suspensions.

Of the decisions the school board made last year to keep students at home, Hurley said none have come with regrets.

"Each time we closed schools, the decisions were proper decisions," he said. "The decision to protect student safety and to think of their safety first is still utmost in our minds.

On average, Hurley said there have been half a dozen school closures each year over the past 20 years, and that even Gunn had recognized last year's number of closures was an anomaly.

"We're hopeful that the historical weather patterns will follow suit and test out again," he said.

rtetanish@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Chignecto Central Regional School Board

Geographic location: Cumberland County, Nova Scotia

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  • Another 2 Cents
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    For some, it's still not good enough, hey Kerr!