By John DeCoste
It often seems schools are closed a lot during the winter during to weather, but Annapolis Valley Regional School Board superintendent Margo Tait says some years are worse than others.
Dec. 19 marked the first closure of the year in Kings County. That’s not really that unusual, Tait said, as Valley schools only had to be closed one day due to weather in November last year.
At the same time, Tait says it is “very unusual” to have not had at least one school closure day prior to the holiday break.
“We’re in good shape so far this year, and we’re happy with that.”
There is no allowance for storm days built into the school schedule and there is no particular number of storm days that must occur before the board will take particular action.
“I recall one year, we had 11 storm days, which is an unusually high number,” Tait said. “Last year, for example, we had four storm days all year.”
In the year when there were 11 storm days, “we asked schools to focus on instruction, and to suspend, for a time, any extra- and co-curricular activities where they were able, to ensure there was an appropriate amount of instruction time.”
There is no impact on the board’s budget for storm days. As there are some years with a lot and other years with few if any, “it’s pretty much a wash.”
As well, there have been two days so far this school year when school bus drivers used their discretion on some unpaved side roads – though the superintendent stressed, “it is our understanding all those roads were covered.”
In those rare cases when buses don’t travel some roads, she says, “typically parents will arrange to get their children to the nearest bus stop where there is a bus operating. There are never very many students impacted.”
The decision on whether buses will run or not is made at the central office, and is always made prior to the time the first buses would normally be on the road.
With AVRSB buses both owned by the board and operated by a private contractor, Tait confirmed there “aren’t two sets of rules.” All decisions made on busing apply to both board-owned and privately-owned buses.
Individual drivers are always permitted to use their own discretion on certain side roads, with the safety of the vehicle and its passengers the primary concern.