February 2, 2022
On behalf of the Hanover School Division, I want to thank our parents/caregivers for their understanding and cooperation on winter storm or cold days when student safety and division policy necessitate cancelling school. We fully understand the inconvenience and disruption that school closures have on families and work schedules, and we can assure you that the closure of our schools is not taken lightly.
As educators, we understand the importance of our children attending in person for learning and well-being. Fortunately, we’ve not experienced a January like this one in a long time. It has been exacerbated by the fact that we are still experiencing impacts from the pandemic such as an extended winter break followed by a week of remote learning.
As per the Weather-Related School Closure Policy, schools will close when weather and road conditions in Hanover School Division are such that it is not advisable to transport students via school buses. The safety of our students and staff is of utmost priority.
Wednesday morning in particular, presented a unique circumstance. The winter storm was done and visibility was good, but the hard-packed snow drifts on many rural bus routes were too significant for safe passage. As is always the case on potential closure days due to storms and hazardous driving conditions, an HSD employee was on the road prior to 5:30 am this morning to check whether it was safe for our buses to travel. Our road safety assessment includes early morning conversations with neighbouring school divisions, given that our bus routes may follow similar directional pathways on country roads. The decision to close schools due to extreme weather is done early in the morning, usually by 6:00 am.
Like many other rural school divisions, a large percentage of our students are transported to school by buses, and therefore when it’s not safe to operate buses, the impact on schools is system-wide. At present, the HSD Weather-Related School Closure Policy does not provide accommodation for partial or regional school closures or cancelling only the bus service. Our board and senior administration are committed to ongoing review of policies and procedures, including the Weather-Related School Closure Policy.
In looking at the forecast for Thursday morning, it would appear that extreme cold weather will create another potential closure. A reminder that schools will be closed for cold weather reasons when it’s too cold for students to be exposed to the elements for even a short time. HSD will close schools for cold weather reasons when the recorded temperature at the Environment Canada Kleefeld Weather Station at 6:00 am indicates -35𐩑 degrees Celsius or colder, or a Windchill of -45𐩑 degrees Celsius or colder.
An automated notification telephone call is generated for 6:45 am to all families and staff. In addition, the notification is posted on the HSD website, Twitter account, and school websites shortly after 6:00 am. Please check those sites if you would like notification earlier than 6:45 am. Local and Winnipeg media outlets are also notified and will broadcast at various times.
The Hanover School Division has grown and learned a lot regarding virtual/remote learning as a direct result of the pandemic in schools over the last two years. We are currently reviewing and discussing the opportunities and challenges of implementing virtual learning on cold weather/storm days in the future.
Again, we acknowledge the challenge and the frustration felt, and thank those who have taken the time to provide respectful feedback. Your feedback matters and will be taken into consideration as we review.
Stay safe and stay warm!
Shelley Amos, Interim Superintendent/CEO
Hanover School Division