School bus transportation and inclement weather
To run or not to run?
Winter weather and driving conditions bring questions about school bus transportation. Are the buses running today? Should the buses be running today? Why aren’t the buses running today? Why are the buses running in Onoway when they are canceled in Valleyview?
The decision to run or cancel school bus transportation due to weather concerns or road conditions is made by the Director of Transportation, Mr. Rhett Czaban. It is not a decision that is made lightly. There are a number of factors considered, and a number of people who are consulted, prior to making the call. In addition to travelling and scouting the roads himself, Mr. Czaban has a number of local contacts in all NGPS communities with whom he is in contact with in the early hours, between 4:00 am and 6:00 am. He is also in contact with NGPS school bus drivers who may already be on the road.
Environment Canada, 511 and satellite cameras located up and down Highway 43 are also consulted throughout the day. The initial determination to run or not run buses is made between 6:00 am and 6:30 am and is communicated directly to our parents in the following ways:
- via the Bus Status tab on our website at www.ngps.ca
- on our Facebook page @northerngatewaypublicschools
- on school websites – look for the Bus Status section
- on Twitter @ngpschools
- via local radio station announcements
- via phone calls to parents by bus drivers (circumstances permitting)
Every effort is made to communicate with parents directly regarding changes to bus transportation; however, phone calls home are not always possible given the situation the bus driver is dealing with at the time.
If you do not see a cancellation message on the NGPS website, Facebook page or Twitter feed, buses are running.
What Guides Us? Administrative Procedure 131 (http://bit.ly/AP131) refers to -40 degrees Celsius, including wind chill, as one determination factor in canceling buses. This point is based on area data, not specific site information. For example, while individual homes may have thermometers indicating a temperature below the specified -40 degrees Celsius, the data that is collected for each area is the evidence that is used to support the decision to cancel bus transportation.
The Director of Transportation utilizes his best judgment, based on the combination of temperature, visibility, road conditions and consultation within our communities when making the decision to run or not to run buses. The primary consideration in the event of severe weather conditions is whether it is SAFE to be transporting children. The expanse of the Division (375 km along Highway 43) means that running buses is not an all or nothing response as the conditions can vary greatly from school area to school area. NGPS is committed to be reasonable, responsible, and attentive to the information that is available throughout the day in all areas.
It’s Always Your Call! Parents are reminded that the final decision to send a child to the bus stop or to school always rests with the parents, even though buses and schools may be operational. Don’t forget to dress warmly!