Inclement Weather Policy Changes

event Published 2021-10-14T20:08:43.539Z

Recently, Prairie Rose Public Schools undertook a review of Inclement Weather policy T201. The review occurred following feedback from many parents and staff who expressed that the current policy was confusing, especially when it came to school closures and extreme cold weather. The policy stated that schools could be closed when the temperature (combined with wind chill) was -40 or lower at 6:00 am. This resulted in several days of school closures and late decisions which caused planning challenges for families.

As part of the review process, information regarding wind chill information and weather data was collected from the past three years from all regions of the school division. The research revealed the following:

Wind Chill

  • Wind chill does not impact the actual air temperature. The wind chill index was designed to assess the risk of frostbite on unclothed parts of the body.
  • When students are riding in a bus, wind chill is an irrelevant factor.

Cold Weather Days in Prairie Rose

  • Over the past three years, there was on average 5.9 days each year that schools were closed due cold weather combined with wind chill.
  • On these cold weather days, the temperature frequently warmed over the course of a few hours.
  • The majority of the cold weather days occurred in January, February and March which greatly impacted instructional time in the second semester.
  • Very few cold weather days resulted in temperatures colder than -35 degrees.

The findings of the data used for the report can be found here: PRPS Cold Weather Data

* Data for the report was taken from Agriculture Alberta 

Based on the findings of the inclement weather review, policy T201 Inclement Weather has been changed to reflect the following:

  • Wind chill is no longer going to be calculated into school closure decisions on cold weather days.
  • School closures due to temperature will occur when the actual temperature is -36 degrees or colder.
  • School bus drivers will continue to have the autonomy to cancel routes based on localized conditions and for safety reasons.
  • Schools may still be closed due to poor roads and weather conditions (i.e. blizzards, icy conditions, blowing snow.)

Link to updated policy: T201 Inclement Weather

We understand that many families will continue to have concerns about sending their children to school on days of extreme cold weather. Should a cold weather day occur and a school is not closed (based on the above criteria) a parent maintains the right to keep their child home from school. If this is the case, we ask that parents connect with the school and bus driver to communicate this decision.

It is our hope that the revisions to Inclement Weather policy T201 will ensure a more consistent approach across Prairie Rose Public Schools when cold weather occurs. We will continue to communicate with parents using School Messenger to announce changes to bus routes or school closures. If you have not done so already, we encourage you to opt in to receive text messages, as it remains the most effective means to get information to families in a timely manner.