SBC Responsibilities in Emergency Conditions
This letter outlines the general principles to be followed in cases of emergency such as severe winter weather or severe flooding. Winter weather can be very variable and it is easy to be caught out by sudden changes.
In the event of severe weather we will make every effort to keep the school open and continue as normal. However, there may be situations where this is not possible and it is therefore important that you follow the points below in terms of transport arrangements.
In the event of severe weather affecting the normal day to day functions of primary and secondary schools in Scottish Borders ‘Resilient Schools’ procedures can be activated.
Where the decision is taken to evoke resilient schools then no school transportation will operate on those days. If your child normally gets school transport do not bring your child to school.
During adverse weather, school transport may be subject to cancelled services, amended routes, longer journey times or alternative bus stops used.
School bus drivers and operators have complete discretion to cancel or vary school transport given any local weather conditions.
In the case of morning journeys to the school, the driver may decide that he/she either cannot undertake the journey or complete the trip to school. The driver would then return the children home. In the event of adverse weather conditions, parents should ensure that some arrangement has been made at home to cover this possibility.
Should the school transport for your child not operate in the morning because of adverse weather conditions but you decide to take your child to school yourself then you are expected to collect your child either at the end of the school day or at the time of early closure. Do not bring your child to school when buses do not run unless you are certain of being able to collect them at the end of the school day – even if the weather worsens.
School transportation may well be delayed due to adverse weather so pupils will have to wait longer and be exposed to the cold.
Parents must ensure that their children are warmly dressed just in case the journey to school is very slow or even halted in bad weather. In normal circumstances, pupils should not wait more than 15 minutes if the bus is late. In severely cold weather, this 15 minute rule need not apply.
If your child travels to school on connecting services, drivers will be told to wait for each other and not to leave any children standing in adverse weather conditions. Should the second bus not arrive children will be returned home. If the second bus does arrive but cannot complete the journey to school that driver will return children to their homes.
What will happen if pupils are sent home early due to bad weather or other emergency?
The Head Teacher will be the person responsible in conjunction with the Education Department to close a school or to send children home early should severe weather conditions threaten.
Where pupils use school transportation a set of emergency instructions are used to contact transport operators and other schools using the same transport, and parents whose children have a long way to walk home from the drop-off points. Parents must ensure that some arrangement has been made to cover the possibility of pupils being sent home early.
Schools routinely communicate with parents or groups of parents using Groupcall text messaging service. Once the decision has been made then Group call will be used to send updated information regarding sending pupils home early.
Parents are asked to ensure that the school that their child attends has an up to date and accurate mobile telephone number on record for these purposes. It is further suggested that parents who may find it difficult or not possible to have their mobile telephone switched on throughout the day ensure that they check their phone on a regular basis for any Groupcall messages from the school when bad weather has been forecast or where they see deterioration in the weather.
If school transport is in operation and you collect your own child from school during severe weather then the school office must be informed so that transport is not delayed while staff look for a missing child.
Additional information to ensure the safe travel of pupils to/from school
The ultimate responsibility for the safety of children walking to and from bus pick-up/drop-off points rests with the parents. Parents must decide whether or not children can make their way to meet transport in low temperatures.
If you feel that your child should not walk home alone in bad weather from the drop-off point it will be your responsibility to meet him/her. Drivers will not normally set children down at any point significantly different from the usual one. The driver will use his/her judgment in deciding whether to leave the child or to keep him/her on the bus. In the latter case, your child would be taken to a nearby school or place of safety. Children must follow any instructions given to them by the driver in any emergency and should not leave the bus to make their own way home.
Where transport is unable to operate to take children home as a result of extreme weather conditions then local boarding arrangements would be made.
Information will be relayed via Groupcall texts so it is important that the school has up to date contact details. Radio Borders and the Scottish Borders Website will also be used to inform parents of any important information.