Vancouver Island snow day: How do schools decide whether to close?

Making a decision about whether schools will be closed or open on a snowy day means an early start for Sooke School District superintendent Scott Stinson.

It begins with checking Drive B.C. webcams about 4:30 a.m. Then the manager of transportation and a few other staffers start to drive along district roads about 5 a.m. “They drive some of the bus routes, and they know which ones are particularly problematic, so they’re checking those first,” Stinson said. “We’re in contact starting about 5 o’clock and about 5:30, I come out and join [them], and drive some of the roads.

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“By 6 o’clock, we make a decision about what we’re going to do. Are buses going to run? Are we going to close schools?”

The Sooke district’s Port Renfrew Elementary was the only school closed Tuesday in the capital region, which also includes the Greater Victoria, Saanich and Gulf Islands districts.

The Port Renfrew bus was also cancelled.

Stinson said the route between Port Renfrew and Sooke was challenging. “There was a pocket of weather sitting there that really hit it hard.”

Closure decisions are posted as soon as possible on the district website and social media, he said, and Sooke officials keep in contact throughout with their counterparts in the Greater Victoria and Saanich districts. “We start texting around 5:30, quarter to 6 to see what they’re thinking,” Stinson said.

The Finlayson Arm Road bus was also cancelled Tuesday, and students on some routes were directed to walk to pickup areas away from spots with difficult access.

The Greater Victoria district announced Tuesday afternoon that schools would remain open until regular dismissal times, but students would be released before then if parents wanted to pick them up early.

Weather conditions were being monitored, the announcement said.

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