Weekend storm left four schools without power, only one remained open

John Black Public School in Fergus opened on Nov. 16 with 2/3 power, porta-potties and handwash stations

FERGUS – After the Nov. 15 wind and rainstorm left portions of Wellington County without power, both local school boards were forced to close at least one school each.

In the Wellington Catholic District School Board Sacred Heart Catholic School in Rockwood was closed on both Nov. 16 and 17 due to power outage. The board website stated Hydro One crews were continuing to work “to rectify the situation.”

The Upper Grand District School Board saw a few more schools impacted.

On Nov. 16 only Eramosa Public School, north of Rockwood, was closed for the day due to power outages. The power restoration was scheduled for 11:30pm that night.

John Black Public School in Fergus was also without full power in the morning but because Hydro One estimated the power would be returned at 11:30am the school remained open, Upper Grand spokesperson Heather Loney explained.

In the morning John Black tweeted that the school had two-thirds power but the wifi wasn’t working.

Loney confirmed that keeping the school open was part of standard protocols in the Upper Grand District School Board.

“The board does not often close schools for power outages, as long as we have our required protocols in place,” she said. “In the case of John Black PS on Monday, the estimated time given on the power coming back online from Hydro One was 11:30am.”

To hold the school over porta-potties and handwash stations were delivered by 9:30am.

“With handwash stations and porta-potties, the school can manage with no water for two hours,” Loney said.

The power was restored by between 11:30 and 11:45am on Monday.

At about 11:30am on Nov. 16 the power also went out at Minto-Clifford Public School in Harriston and was not estimated to be restored until 6pm.

The school still had emergency lights for about an hour if the power went out and emergency flashlights.

In this case porta-potties were not needed because the school is on the town water supply and toilets and washroom facilities were operational, Loney said.

“In this case, parents/guardians were called asking them to pick up their children if possible,” Loney said. “Buses ran as normal at the end of the day to take students home.”

She did note that the majority of the students were able to be picked up in the afternoon.

Ultimately, the decision to close schools due to a power outage is in the hands of the director of education. Four main factors go into making that decision, Loney said, including:

– length of time the power has been off;

– estimated time the school will be without power;

– outside temperature; and

– time of power outage notification.