Severe weather, in the form of high heat, humidity, lightning, thunderstorms or other phenomena is a critical factor that impacts directly on human health and safety. While the majority of Canadian schools and school boards have clear policies and guidelines relating to canceling transportation or closing schools in times of significant snow fall, wind chill or ice storms, many do not consider other weather related issues that impact students and staff alike.
Since severe weather can present significant risks to all, individual schools and outdoor education centers can easily create their own set of guidelines, tailored to their unique situation. For example, schools in Orangeville, Ontario may experience very different weather conditions that those in Guelph, where the school board offices lie and where decisions about school closures and bus cancellations are made. In order for school administrators to better understand how severe weather can affect their students and to reinforce the need for school-wide policies related to severe weather, Environment Canada contracted GAEL to prepare an Administrator’s Handbook entitled Severe Weather Health and Safety: A Planning Handbook for School Administrators. It is designed to help address some of the more common severe weather incidents and prepare students, teachers, parents and others for how to deal with these situations.
The handbook details severe weather conditions that commonly occur, including thunder, lightning, air quality health index high results, high heat and humidity, etc. A series of scenarios are then detailed which provide options for the Administrators to deal with the situation.
Associated with the handbook is another document entitled Severe Weather Guideline Models which provides direction and instructions along with an actual template for developing individual school policies relating to sever weather.