Board reminds parents of storm day procedures

Darrell
Darrell Cole
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Schools open despite freezing rain warning

The CCRSB is explaining its storm day closure procedure after deciding against closing schools on Monday.

The CCRSB is explaining its storm day closure procedure after deciding against closing schools on Monday.

AMHERST – The Chignecto-Central Regional School Board is reminding parents of the procedure for cancelling school on storm days.

Responding to complaints from parents about schools not being closed Monday despite a freezing rain warning, board spokeswoman Debbie Buott-Matheson said decisions regarding school cancellations are made early in the morning or midday.

“Safety is always our first concern when making these decisions,” Buott-Matheson said. “We complaints all the time when there is a weather system and school doesn’t get shut down and we get complaints when school is shut down and people think we shouldn’t have.”

While Environment Canada was forecasting freezing rain early Monday, board officials opted to open classes for the first day of 2014. The freezing rain didn’t materialize as temperatures rose above freezing quicker than expected.

Still, Buott-Matheson said the board fielded several calls from concerned parents.

In response, the board has reposted to its website the procedures it uses when making a decision on cancelling classes.

Under the procedures, the board’s director of operational services begins his day before 5 a.m. and consults with both public and private weather forecasts and talks to representatives from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal about current and predicted road conditions at the start of the day, midday and the end of the day when students are returning home.

Closures are publicized through the media, the board’s website and social media through Twitter and its Facebook page.

The director also speaks to the forepersons at CCRSB garages and talks to its four family of schools supervisors.

“We want people to better understand where the decision comes from,” she said. “When people don’t know what the process is they tend to fill in the blanks themselves. We want them to know how the decision is made and what factors are considered.”

Buott- Matheson said the final decision on whether to send a child to school rests with the parent.

Buott-Matheson said the board updated its procedures in 2011 ago amid complaints from parents about what they viewed as too many closures. The board surveyed parents and heard most thought school was cancelled too much.

“What we heard is that parents didn’t want as many storm days as we’d been having so they asked us to use our best judgment. If it’s not necessary to shut down, don’t shutdown,” she said.

In early 2010, the province hired Jim Gunn to make recommendations on storm day closures after far more closures than normal occurred in 2009. Gunn, a former school board administrator, suggested implementing contingency plan for when a critical amount of days are lost and he recommended opening schools later in the day when weather has improved.

The Chignecto board implemented a number of his recommendations.

darrell.cole@tc.tc

Twitter: @ADNdarrell

Organizations: Central Regional School Board, Environment Canada, Chignecto board

Geographic location: Chignecto

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Recent comments

  • Beth
    January 06, 2014 - 20:37

    People will never be satisfied with the calls made by the Board, as the spokeswoman indicated. Unfortunately too many parents refuse to take responsibility for their own decisions and/or view school as daycare for their children. The procedure for deciding whether or not to cancel school is well publicized to parents with kids in school: notices and newsletters in Septtember, explanation in student agendas, CCRSB website. Closures rarely come as a surprise, if you are paying attention to the forecast. Have a back up plan: it is never fun as a working parent to have to scramble for care for your kids, but how hard is it to make a plan in September to carry out in the year to come? Those who complain about missed time are the same parents who complain about sending their kids to school on days they consider "unsafe". If you are not comfortable sending your child(ren), don't. Funny enough, those complaining about missed time often seem to be the same parents who think nothing of letting their kids skip school for extra vacation time, or other reasons important to them personally. You can't have it both ways! There have been extra school days built into the school calendar for many years in order to accommodate some storm days. Surely money spent hiring a consultant to address a specific incidence of closures during a particularly stormy winter could have been better spent!

  • NSCC ?
    January 06, 2014 - 19:48

    Can someone explain NSCC closing today? They were initially opened Friday morning despite the blizzard , yet closed today without a drop of ice???????