It's snowing! What happens now?

When snow falls, as it often does in the Northern Lights region, student safety is our top priority. When  when we decide to cancel buses (or more rarely, classes), student safety is the most important reason for doing so. 

There are always a lot of questions surrounding winter weather and school, and we have all the answers for you. 

How do you decide to cancel buses? 

Busing cancellations are a joint effort between our Transportation Department and individual bus contractors. When assessing whether or not it is safe to transport students on buses, we take into account: 

• Condition of the roads;
• Outside temperature;
• Wind chill factor;
• Visibility (blowing snow, fog, etc.);
• RCMP travel advisories; and
• Weather warnings issue by Environment Canada.

What happens if the weather turns bad during the school day or while buses are running?

When inclement weather conditions exist but buses are running or during the school day, bus operators/drivers are granted the discretion to make additional stops and/or to extend bus routes onto private property to ensure that students are delivered safely. 

Under extenuating circumstances and with the approval of the School Principal and in consultation with the Director of Transportation, bus operators/drivers may make arrangements with their respective school parents for earlier than normal dismissal of their bus route students, or decide not to operate due to adverse weather and/or road conditions as per the procedures in the Transportation Policy Handbook.

If one bus route in my region is canceled, is mine canceled as well?

Bus routes are assessed on a route-by-route basis. This means that we may determine that one route (Route A) is unsafe for bus operation, while others (Routes B and C) remain in acceptable driving conditions. Therefore, Route A would be canceled while Routes B and C remain in operation. 

If buses are cancelled, does that mean school is cancelled?

Not necessarily. In almost all cases, schools remain open and classes are still in session when buses are canceled. Programming may be modified if large numbers of students are absent, and student absences caused by canceled buses will be considered excused absences. 

So when is school cancelled?

School and classes will be cancelled when: 

• The Wind Chill exceeds –45 degrees Celsius, or
• The outside air temperature as measured at 4 Wing in Cold Lake or at Lac La Biche Airport is at or exceeds –40 degrees Celsius.

Just like bus routes, schools throughout the Division will not necessarily be affected concurrently. Schools could be closed only in Cold Lake while they remain open in Lac La Biche, for example. 

If buses are cancelled but classes aren't, do I have to send my child to school?

When inclement weather conditions exist and school closure has not been effected, parents must use their own discretion in sending their child to school. If your child will be absent due to bus cancellations, or for any other reason, please inform your school. 

Do I have to call the school and let them know my child is not coming to school?

For safety reasons, we would like all parents to call us and confirm that their child is not attending on days when buses or classes are cancelled. Many parents decide to drive their child to school, or make alternate transportation arrangements when buses are cancelled, and we want to make sure everyone gets to school safely. If a child doesn't show up and we haven't heard from you, we don't know if it's because buses aren't running and you stayed at home, or if something serious may have happened on the way to school. So please call your child's school and let them know if your children are not attending that day.

How can I know when buses and/or classes are canceled?

Northern Lights Public Schools strives for excellent communication and has a large variety of tools available to parents to ensure that they always have the latest information regarding busing and class cancellations. 

All busing delays and cancellations will be posted on our website and on our Bus Status App. Major busing cancellations (for an entire region or the whole Division, for example), will also be posted on our Facebook page and sent to parents through SchoolMessenger. 

Northern Lights Bus Status Webpage

Download the Bus Status App for Android

Download the Bus Status App for Apple (must be running iOS 11.0 or later)

Learn how to use the Bus Status App

Northern Lights Public Schools' Facebook Page

Learn more about using SchoolMessenger


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