The merger of the Western School Board and the Eastern School District into the English Language School Board has prompted changes to the storm closure policy.
Storm closures or early dismissals due to weather will now happen by school family.
“If the whole board is closed it would be announced that the English Language School Board and all the English language schools in the province would be closed for the day. If there were partial closures they would be announced by family of schools,” said John Cummings, the English board’s director of corporate services.
“If the transportation supervisors deemed that the former Western School Board schools be shut down for that day but… that the former Eastern schools could go to school, instead of announcing it is a Western School Board closure we would be announcing the four families of schools that would be closed.”
Each school family is named after the high school it feeds into.
For example, in Summerside, Elm Street, Parkside and Greenfield elementary schools, Miscouche and Athena consolidated and Summerside Intermediate would all belong to the Three Oaks family of schools and, in West Prince, Tignish, St. Louis, O’Leary, Ellerslie, Bloomfield and Alberton elementary schools, M.E. Callaghan and Hernwood would belong to the Westisle family of schools.
School storm cancellations, whether for the entire board or a school family, will be announced on local radio stations and posted on the board’s website by 7 a.m.
When it comes delays or early school closures during the day, detailed announcements will be made on the radio and the board’s website.
In the situation where the Transportation department and/or the RCMP recommend school buses remain off Island roads, students may be required to stay at school beyond their normal dismissal time. These announcements will also be made on the radio and on the board’s website.
The decision to close schools due to inclement weather is ultimately made by two board transportation supervisors — one in the west and the other in the east.
“They are very experienced so they are always monitoring road conditions and weather forecasts and information from Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, plow dispatchers and plow operators,” said Cummings. “They are analyzing that information to determine if weather conditions are such that school should either, from a transportation perspective, be closed or delayed.”
In 2011, the Eastern School District and Western School Board each had two full storm days.
“It’s a difficult job,” admitted Cummings. “Safety of students is paramount.”
School families and further storm closure information are listed at www.edu.pe.ca/esd/pdf/notice_to_parents.pdf.