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Several school buses cancelled as cold weather bears down on Cariboo Chilcotin

Updated transportation policy removed coldest temperature for bus cancellation
A bus transports students to school in Williams Lake Dec. 20. (Photo submitted)

Schools in SD27 are open Tuesday, Dec. 20, however, there are more than 20 bus cancellations as the temperature dips to -37C in Williams Lake, colder out west.

This is the third winter that updated policies surrounding cold weather procedures have been in place in the district. The update saw the removal of the coldest temperature at which point buses would be cancelled.

The cold weather procedure policy states; “Parents must exercise discretion as to whether students should be sent to school when temperatures are low, and conditions are hazardous. Responsibility for such decisions cannot rest with the supervisor, the bus driver or the district.

Cancellation of school buses will be determined by the Manager of Facilities and Transportation or designate. The cancellation will be posted on the School District Website as well, notifications will be sent by email of all cancelations or issues to Superintendent of Schools, School Principals / Vice-Principals and District Senior Staff.”

While the updated policy has many discussing the issue on social media, SD27 Superintendent Chris van der Mark said he’s only received one complaint from a parent so far by email stating the weather was too cold, and they kept their children at home.

“And that’s the right call if that’s how you feel,” Van der Mark told Black Press. “If a parent thinks it is too cold they should keep their children at home.”

Van der Mark explained when the district reviewed the policy, it was only one or two districts left in the province which determined bus cancellations by a specific temperature.

The school district in Fort St John, for example, runs buses at -40C, he noted, if they deem roads are safe to do so.

“Cancellations of buses is way more complex than to be reduced to a number,” he said, noting there are impacts to cancelling buses such as parents being unable to go to work and a loss of learning opportunities for students.

Van der Mark said parents who want to keep their children home, but are concerned about missing learning, can use technology connect to their schools and classes.

Van der Mark added the policy can always be reviewed and that the district makes decisions surrounding bus cancellations every school morning for their 4,600 students in the district.

Read More: Temperatures plunge in Chilcotin, -47C at Puntzi Mountain

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Angie Mindus

About the Author: Angie Mindus

A desire to travel led me to a full-time photographer position at the Williams Lake Tribune in B.C.’s interior.
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