Inclement Weather Procedures
There may be times during the school year when it is necessary to cancel student transportation services due to bad weather. In some cases, the decision may be made to close schools.
School bus delays and cancellations
Transportation to and from school is provided by Service de transport de Wellington-Dufferin Student Transportation Services (STWDSTS). STWDSTS has inclement weather procedures for school buses which are common for all five school boards in the Wellington-Dufferin region.
The decision to cancel buses is made by STWDSTS after consultation with the Bus Operators. The school board does not make the decision to cancel buses.
The STWDSTS website contains the most up-to-date information on school bus delays and cancellations. Cancellations will also be tweeted @stwdsts. An email will be sent to those subscribed to STWDSTS delays and cancellations.
STWDSTS will post information on bus cancellations on the STWDSTS website by 6:30 a.m. Information on school closures due to bus cancellations (i.e. schools that are dependent on bus transportation) will also be posted to the STWDSTS website.
PLEASE NOTE: The school board does not post information about bus delays or cancellations on the school board website or social media. Please follow STWDSTS for information on school bus delays or cancellations.
STWDSTS defines four divisions across Upper Grand for transportation services and notifies the public of delays and cancellations by division:
- Division One (Yellow) – “South Wellington and the City of Guelph”
- Division Two (Blue) – “Centre Wellington, the Town of Erin and the Town of Rockwood”
- Division Three (Pink) – “North Wellington”
- Division Four (Green) – “Dufferin County”
Information on transportation cancellations due to severe weather is also made available through local radio stations.
In a situation where school buses are cancelled but schools are open, parents should always assess weather and road conditions and make their own decision to send their children to school, or not. Parents are not expected to drive their children to school in bad weather.
In the early morning, if the Transportation Consortium feels that it is too dangerous for students and staff to get to work, the STWDSTS Manager calls the Directors of the co-terminus boards to provide Directors with a report. The report contains information on buses as well as a recommendation on whether or not to close some or all of the divisions of the school boards.
The recommendation and therefore the Directors, take into account many things including:
- Temperature and wind chill factor
- Blowing snow or reduced visibility
- The forecast for the day, whether conditions are expected to improve or deteriorate
- The warmth and safety of students and staff
- Other factors like exam schedules
- Parents’ needs (e.g. child care, commuting to work)
The Directors consult with each other and make a joint recommendation about school closures. Then, each Director speaks with the Chair of their Board to review the recommendation. Once consensus is reached, the final decision is made and is communicated with the Transportation Consortium.
If the decision is made to close schools, an alert will be posted on the board and school websites, information will be posted on the UGDSB Twitter page and UGDSB Facebook page, and local media will be alerted.
Bus cancellations and school closures due to extreme cold weather
Each morning, the general manager of STWDSTS will assess the temperature in all four divisions of Upper Grand District School Board using Environment Canada’s Wind Chill Index by 5:15am. If the temperature is forecasted to reach -35°C or colder with wind chill at 7am, STWDSTS will inform the school boards’ Directors of Education or designate.
STWDSTS will make the decision to cancel buses by 5:30am and, if buses are cancelled, will post the announcement to the STWDSTS website by 6:30am. Buses may or may not be cancelled, and the decision is made by STWDSTS based on a number of factors.
When the 7am forecasted temperature is -35°C or colder with wind chill, schools may or may not be closed. The decision to close schools is a joint decision of the Directors of Education of the Upper Grand and Wellington Catholic District School Boards with Board Chairs.
If the decision is made to close schools, an alert will be posted on the board and school websites, and local media will be alerted.
Extreme weather during the school day
The Upper Grand District School Board has additional extreme weather procedures in place for its own schools. The board’s Senior Administration provides direction to principals to deal with isolated weather incidents, as required. For additional information on extreme weather conditions speak to your school principal.
Recess/Lunch during conditions of extreme cold
At the request of principals, a specific wind chill standard has not been adopted by the Upper Grand District School Board to determine if students should be kept indoors at these times. Principals are required to be sensitive to the safety and well-being of students during periods of severe weather. The decision to keep students in during recess, lunch or nutrition break or to shorten their time outdoors is made by the principal or designate of each school using sound judgment and in consideration of the following:
- Recess provides a necessary break for students. Physical activity and socialization refresh students and help them to be more successful in the learning activities that follow a recess break. Principals will allow outdoor recess whenever possible.
- The safety and well-being of students must be ensured, and during severe weather conditions student safety is the primary concern of principals. Principals will make the decision to keep students inside or shorten an outside break when the conditions warrant such action.
- The specifics of the local situation are considered. Some schools have protected areas where weather conditions are mitigated. Others are very exposed.
- Principals may discuss their plans with neighbouring schools as part of the decision-making process and consider input from other staff members.
Fire alarm procedures in winter
If a school must be evacuated during the winter months as a result of a fire alarm, fire, or other emergency situation, principals follow these guidelines to ensure student safety from smoke and possible fire, and exposure to winter weather conditions:
- All students are expected to wear shoes or boots upon exiting the building.
- Principals establish a process by which K-6 students take warm winter clothing outside for a fire alarm.
- Teachers constantly remind students of the need to wear shoes in the school building at all times.
You can help ensure your child’s safety by providing a pair of shoes to be worn in the school during winter and periods of inclement weather, and by reminding your child of the importance of wearing shoes at all times in school.
Risk of frostbite in extreme cold weather
Parents and guardians should be aware that frigid temperatures present a risk of frostbite within minutes of skin being exposed. Environment Canada warns that when the temperature is between -28 to -39°C, exposed skin can freeze in just 10 to 30 minutes.
Frostbite is a severe condition where the skin and underlying tissue are frozen due to exposure to the cold. Skin appears white and waxy and is hard to the touch. Skin may also feel numb. Environment Canada warns that frostbite can be quite serious and advises that if frostbite occurs, seek medical help, do not rub or massage the area and do not apply direct heat to the skin. Rather, gradually warm the area using body heat or warm water.
Parents and guardians should ensure their children are dressed properly for frigid temperatures.
School crossing guards
Additionally, parents and guardians should be aware that municipal crossing guards may not be providing service as a result of the extreme cold temperatures. Each municipality determines how it handles crossing guards and severe weather. Please see below for general information regarding your municipality’s procedure, and please contact your municipality if you have additional questions.
If the buses are cancelled, but schools are open, crossing guards will still be working. If the schools in Centre Wellington are closed, the crossing guards will not be working.
Town of Erin
If the buses are cancelled, but schools are open, crossing guards will still be working. If the schools in the Town of Erin are closed, the crossing guards will not be working.
If the schools are open, crossing guards are scheduled to work. However, parents should be aware that crossing guards may not be at their posts during extreme weather conditions. Please direct questions regarding crossing guards to the City of Guelph at [email protected] or by telephone at (519) 822-1260 extension 2040.
According to the municipality of Guelph-Eramosa, if the schools are open the crossing guards will be at their posts.
The town of Minto does not have a set policy on crossing guards and severe weather, however crossing guards are to be at their regular posts at all regular specified times on inclement weather days.
In Orangeville, crossing guards will be at their post, unless schools are closed.
If the buses are cancelled but the school is open, crossing guards are required to be on duty. It is the responsibility of each crossing guard to listen to the broadcast announcements before the start of the school day and determine if the school he or she serves is going to be closed.
The municipality of Wellington North has no set policy on crossing guards and severe weather, however if the school is closed the crossing guards do not go out. If the buses are cancelled but the school is open there is an expectation that the guards will report to their posts.