Inclement Weather Procedure
NSTS has developed procedures to guide decision-making in the event of inclement weather. We are watching forecasts and alerts throughout the school year anticipating how inclement weather events may impact our ability to operate safely and reliably.
Historical Inclement Weather Cancellations and Closures
We have learned in Niagara that we need to be prepared for service disruptions due to inclement weather. Over the last 15 years, we average 1.9 days per year of inclement weather transportation cancellations and 0.7 days per year of school closures.
We have some great years with zero (0) transportation cancellations and some tough years with nine (9) days of transportation cancellations. The majority of cancellations impacted service across Niagara, while we have had a few partial cancellations only impacting municipalities along the Lake Erie shore.
The Day/Night Before An Inclement Weather Event
The day and night before, NSTS and service providers are monitoring weather forecasts and alerts from Environment Canada for both north and south Niagara. For Environment Canada Warnings, Watches and Statements for Niagara CLICK HERE
NSTS notifies service providers and school boards the day/night before a school day if the weather forecast or alerts require early morning monitoring or full scale road checks in order to make an informed decision about student transportation operations or cancellations.
The Morning of the Inclement Weather Event
NSTS and service provider staff are up by 4:30 a.m. evaluating weather and road conditions.
The weather is evaluated based on actual conditions present and the forecasted impact of the inclement weather event for the entirety of the school day to ensure safe and reliable operations on both the way to school, and the way home from school.
The road conditions are evaluated by performing road checks on a survey sample in different areas of the Niagara Region, testing both urban and rural road conditions. Service providers or NSTS may reach out to local municipal partners to validate our observations and to discuss road treatment plans and the availability of police on the road to support operations. There are times that the weather event is actively occurring or behind us during our morning road checks and we are able to evaluate the impact of the snow accumulation, rate of accumulation, the impact of the wind and the ability of municipal snow clearing services to maintain primary, secondary and rural roads. We also need to check if buses can be cleared of snow and all light systems are visible and moving parts, i.e. crossing gate arm, are operational.
For weather conditions and forecasts, Environment Canada is our primary source specific to Niagara; however, we do look to other weather services and forecasts for neighbouring geographies. Sometimes we need to make a decision based on forecast and project how it will impact travel during peak morning and afternoon transportation times. We make the very best decision possible based on forecast considering our ability to provide safe and reliable operations and the mission to support the learners of Niagara get to school.
Every effort is made by NSTS and service providers to gather and share all information by 5:15 a.m. NSTS evaluates if sufficient information is available for decision-making or continue to seek more information to fill gaps to make the best decision possible.
NSTS makes every effort to notify the school boards of the student transportation cancellation decision by 5:30 a.m. and to share the data gathered that informed that decision. School board Directors of Education may use the information shared by NSTS, in consultation with their additional information sources, to guide their decision-making process to close schools.
Public Announcement of Decision for Transportation Cancellations or School Closures
Every attempt is made to provide the public with information on student transportation cancellations and/or school closures by 6:00 a.m. The announcement will be posted on DSBN, Niagara Catholic and NSTS websites and socials.
For the NSTS website, the information is posted as a banner on the Home Page CLICK HERE and on the Delays and Cancellations Home Page CLICK HERE
NSTS sends push notifications via Twitter (@niagarasts), via email to subscribers who signed up to Alerts through the Parent Portal and an Alert appears on the BP Delays App.
If your power is out or you do not have an internet connection, you may call the NSTS mainline, 905-357-6787, and the auto attendant will have information related to any cancellations or closures.
For DSBN's Inclement Weather Information CLICK HERE
For Niagara Catholic's Inclement Weather Information CLICK HERE
Local radio and television stations are also notified by 6:00 a.m. to disseminate this information to the public. These stations include CHCH, Cogeco Cable 10, City TV, CKTB 610 am, EZ Rock 105.7 fm, HTZ 97.7 fm, KLite 102.9 fm, The River - 105.1 fm, More 101.1 fm, KX 94.7 fm, Y-108 - 107.9 fm , GIANT FM 91.7
Parents/Guardians Make the Final Decision
We value your feedback on the decision we make for inclement weather operations and cancellations. We make the very best decision we can to broadcast the decision by 6:00 a.m. and we take this responsibility very seriously. Please note that parents and/or guardians make the final decision on whether or not to send their child to the bus stop and/or school in inclement weather conditions.
Inclement Weather Decision-Making Video
Our friends at Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region (STSWR) have made a video outlining their inclement weather transportation cancellation decision-making process. While we have a few minor differences, our procedure is largely similar.
To view the video from our friends at STSWR CLICK HERE