February 20th, 2019

Winter closures rare for city schools

By Mo Cranker on February 11, 2019.

NEWS FILE PHOTO
Student Noel Graham helps Mackenzie Tindall attach a positive message to the chainlink fence around I.F. Cox School on Pink T-Shirt Day in Feburary 2015. City school superintendents say closures due to weather are something they take very seriously but are rare.


mcranker@medicinehatnews.com
@MHNmocranker

While a number of rural schools were closed Thursday, city schools remained open and operating as usual in the cold, snowy weather.

In Medicine Hat, the catholic and public school boards have different policies on whether or not they will close their schools in the winter months.

“It’s really important to have clear policies in place when it comes to completely closing the school,” said catholic board superintendent Joe Colistro. “We follow the lead of two groups in the city, Southlands Bussing and the Medicine Hat Police Service — we try our absolute best to communicate with parents when it’s ugly weather.

“Obviously if the buses aren’t working well we have to look at cancelling and if the police direct us that the roads are unsafe then we’ll look at closing as an option.”

As for the public board, the winter policy is simple and clear.

“The Medicine Hat Public School Division does not close schools on the basis of weather,”said public school board superintendent Mark Davidson. “The only way we’ll completely close a school is if the building is not deemed safe for students and staff to attend.”

Even if buses are cancelled public schools remain open, says Davidson.

“We don’t want anyone to show up to school and the doors to be locked,” he said. “We haven’t had an occasion in the past three years that we’ve had to close schools.”

Colistro says closing schools is not a tough call to make when it involves the safety of students.

“We take this very seriously,” he said. “We follow the lead of those two groups and we make an informed decision on what we think is best for our students and staff.

“We haven’t had any closures yet this year.”

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