Snow in Surrey seems to have become a more common occurrence over the past few years. Board policy 5207.2 defines snow removal procedures. In a nutshell, plowing will occur when there is more than 6 inches of snow. Grounds crew and contractors are dispersed in each zone in a prioritized order. Schools with physically disabled students and/or no daytime janitorial staff are the highest priority. Each school should have de-icer pellets and snow shovels.

If there were concerns with the procedures used at your school during and after the snow fall, be sure to bring them up at your next health and safety committee meeting. For example, some schools found that the nearest safe parking was blocks away, others  struggled to get students with special needs safely into the school, and itinerant teachers found it difficult to transport their resources and equipment. Having a plan in place beforehand can resolve many unsafe situations. Purchasing more mats for the entrances to the school can reduce slipping hazards, identifying alternate parking in advance can reduce early morning confusion, buying flashlights and extra batteries for every classroom in case of power outages, and making sure that there is an effective communication strategy to keep staff informed are some suggestions.

Now is a great time to develop these plans because the problems are fresh in our minds. Safety hazards that present an immediate threat must be directed to your principal. Your principal must then resolve the situation and find you a safe place to work until the problem is resolved. Some hazards may warrant closure of part or all of a school. That decision is made by the principal in consultation with the area superintendent. In the case of snow, this would most often be done before staff and students arrive. Please remember to listen to the early news for weather reports. CKNW-980am or News 1130am. If schools are closed, they are closed for students only. Staff is expected to report to work unless otherwise directed. Employees though have the right and the responsibility to determine whether attempting to attend their school site in severe weather conditions could compromise their safety and their personal decision supersedes any district determinations regarding cancellation of classes. (For leave of absence terms, refer to the applicable Collective Agreement).

    • G.21.4.b  Personal Discretionary A total of up to five (5) days leave will be granted in any school year, without pay, for personal matters. Such leave will not be granted, however, for personal business interests operated for the purpose of investment, remuneration, or supplementary income. (or if it applies)
    • G.21.4.k  Transportation Failure Where an employee is unable to report for duty because of a breakdown in public transportation services normally used by the employee or because of closure of public services (e.g., roads), leave will be granted with no loss of pay for up to a full day’s absence, providing:
    • G.21.4.k.i  The employee reports for duty as soon as circumstances permit, and G.21.4.k.ii If requested, the employee provides a written explanation detailing the cause of the absence. In the event of failure to provide such statement, salary will be deducted for the full period of absence.
    • G.21.4.k.iii  No salary will be paid for absences in excess of one (1) day resulting from breakdown or closure of local transportation facilities or services.
    • G.21.4.k.iv  No salary will be paid in the case of absence resulting from breakdown of personal vehicles or transportation failures experienced while on holidays or on other personal business.

For further information or clarification on these issues, please contact our Health & Safety Officer at or call at (604) 594-5353.