EXTREME WEATHER POLICY

NQS: Quality Area 2

PURPOSE

This policy aims to:

● Provide a framework around which well-informed decisions may be made by Langwarrin Park Preschool to cancel bush kinder session/s in response to forecast weather conditions, and ensure that parents understand this framework
● Ensure the health and safety of all children and staff when the weather conditions become extreme during a session
● Provide guidelines for staff in the event of extreme weather during a Bush Kinder session
● Provide an appropriate mechanism for communication of session cancellations in extreme weather conditions
● Impress upon parents that they may collect their child from a Bush Kinder session at any time in response to the weather conditions (or for any other reason)

POLICY STATEMENT

1. Values

Langwarrin Park Preschool is committed to:
● Providing a safe and healthy environment for children participating in the Bush Kinder program
● Facilitating a bush kinder experience in a variety of (safe) weather conditions, including rain, to allow children to experience nature across as broad a spectrum as possible and without compromising the safety of the participants
● Accessing appropriate resources to enable well-informed determinations to be made regarding weather conditions
● Facilitating effective and timely communication to parents regarding weather conditions, cancellations or relocation of children in the event of extreme weather
● Respecting the right of parents to remove their child from a Bush Kinder session at any time in response to the weather conditions (or for any other reason).

2. Scope

This policy applies to children, parents, staff, committee members, authorised persons, volunteers and students on placement working at Langwarrin Park Preschool.

3. Background and legislation

Langwarrin Park Preschool’s Bush Kinder program is intended to operate across a broad spectrum of weather conditions, allowing the children to experience nature and its elements across the seasons. Whatever the weather, children are encouraged to take the lead in playing, exploring and learning in a bush or natural environment. However, extreme weather conditions may arise periodically which can put the wellbeing and safety of the children and staff at risk. This policy provides the parameters within which the kindergarten can make determinations to cancel bush kinder sessions in response to forecast extreme weather conditions and ensure appropriate communication channels are in place to inform participants. It also provides a framework for staff in the event that extreme weather conditions arise during a session and provides procedures for effective evacuation to a safe location.

Relevant legislation includes but is not limited to:
● Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011
● Education and Care Services National Law 2010
● National Quality Standards, including Quality Area 2 – Children’s health and safety and Quality Area 3 – Physical environment
● Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004
● Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007

4. Definitions

Bureau of Meteorology – Australia’s national weather, climate and water agency. Website

Various iphone/ipad apps use BOM data (eg Pocket Weather)

Extreme Weather – Weather that threatens the immediate or long-term safety of individuals, as a result of rain, lightning, hail, wind or heat. The risk to individuals’ wellbeing is guided by the Bureau of Meteorology’s forecast conditions. An extreme weather table is shown below.

Bush kinder sessions will be cancelled if any of these determinants are met:

WEATHER CONDITIONEXTREME WEATHER DETERMINANT CAUSING CANCELLATION
Forecast Temperature (Heat)36 degrees Celsius or greater and kinder teacher decides it would be appropriate to cancel bush kinder.Note – there is no pre-set minimum temperature.  Thermals and clothing layers should be worn on very cold days.  (Refer to Protective Clothing Policy)
Forecast Wind SpeedIn excess of 45km per hour and kinder teacher decides it would be appropriate to cancel bush kinder.
Forecast storm activityThunder, lightning or hail forecast
BOM weather warning of extreme storm conditions or warning issued by Bureau of Meteorology.

In addition to the above, Langwarrin Park Preschool has the discretion to cancel a session/s if it views the weather to be poor for Bush Kinder purposes, even if the extreme weather determinants in the above table are not reached. Weather warnings from the Bureau of Meteorology for the area may also necessitate cancellation.

Further, the staff at Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne has the authority to override the Langwarrin Park Preschool determination on safety and request cancellation of a session should they feel the Bush Kinder site may be unsafe.

Protective Clothing: Refer to Protective Clothing Policy 

5. Sources and related centre policies

Centre policies

● Delivery & Collection of Children Policy (Bush Kinder Specific)
● Protective Clothing Policy (Bush Kinder Specific)
● Emergency Evacuation Policy (Bush Kinder Specific)
● Snake Awareness Policy (Bush Kinder Specific)
● Incident, Injury, Trauma and Illness Policy 
● Supervision of Children Policy
● Excursion and Service Events 
● Sun Protection Policy
● Water Safety Policy
● Occupational Health and Safety Policy

PROCEDURES

General

The Committee is responsible for:
● An Extreme Weather Policy which gives clear guidelines to staff and parents about extreme conditions that will necessitate cancellation of a bush kinder session/s and provides guidance and procedures for staff in the event of extreme weather during a Bush Kinder session.
● All parents being aware of this policy and provided access to the policy upon request
● Ensuring communication channels are in place to facilitate notification to parents in the event of cancellation of a Bush Kinder session or if the group has been evacuated to a safe location in response to extreme weather conditions.

Parents are responsible for:
● Ensuring they are comfortable at all times with the forecast weather conditions, while their child is attending a Bush Kinder session. If for whatever reason, a parent feels concern for the wellbeing of their child due to the weather conditions, they should consider withholding their child from the session or collecting their child from a session in the event that extreme weather arises during a session.
● Ensuring protective clothing is worn by their child to suit the weather conditions and ensure a change of clothes is provided (including shoes) (Refer to Protective Clothing Policy)
● Ensuring they carry a mobile phone with them and be contactable at all times while their child’s Bush Kinder session is in progress
● Reading and being familiar with the policy
● Bringing relevant issues to the attention of both staff and committee 

Staff are responsible for:
● Monitoring the weather forecast via the Bureau of Meteorology website or via a mobile phone app, the day prior and on the day of the Bush Kinder program.
● Making a determination to cancel or conduct the bush kinder sessions at any time based on the weather forecast.
●Providing notice to parents and staff of the status of the Bush Kinder session(s) as follows:
            * via text message
            * via a post on the group Facebook page.
● Providing notice of the cancellation of the Bush Kinder program to the Royal Botanical Gardens Cranbourne as a matter of courtesy. 
● Keeping mobile phones switched on and accessible to receive notification of cancellation in cases of extreme weather.

In cases of forecast extreme weather (see definition above), Langwarrin Park Preschool will make the decision to cancel the bush kinder program for the session(s) affected in accordance with their Risk Management Plan.

In cases of weather becoming extreme during a session (see definition above), Langwarrin Park Preschool will relocate to a safe place and make the decision to cancel the bush kinder program in accordance with their Risk Management Plan.  Families will be advised via a text message and on the group Facebook page.

EVALUATION

In order to assess whether the policy has achieved the values and purposes the committee will:

  • Seek feedback regarding this policy and its implementation with parents of children participating in the Bush Kinder program.  This can be facilitated through discussions and the annual centre survey.
  • Review the centre’s actions in response to extreme weather conditions.
  • Ask staff to share their experiences in cases of extreme weather (in cases where sessions were cancelled, and in cases where extreme weather arose during a session)
  • Regularly review the policy and centre practices to ensure they are compliant with any new legislation, research or best practice procedures.

AUTHORISATION

Endorsed by the Langwarrin Park Preschool Committee of Management on 15th March 2021

REVIEW DATE

March 2022