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Blog: Friday, January 24th, 2020

Celebrating our Facilities Team

Snow in the Lower Mainland tends to always create a flurry of activity in school districts and the past ten days was no exception for our Facilities Department. Like many, our team watches weather forecasts relentlessly – from computers to phones to TVs to radios to word of mouth. It’s enough to drive you crazy, as every forecast is slightly different, leaving us subject to the unknown of what is coming our way.

But we know the snow is going to come, and up to -20 temperatures with windchill and freezing rain. Will the highway be open? What time will the storm start? How much snow will we get? When will it stop? And most of all, can we get the buses and the schools ready for an opening? These are the common questions that continuously run through our minds.

We start calling resources, conduct material checks, equipment checks, gather ice melt, road salt, shovels, brooms, spreaders, plows, aspirin, Visine, coffee… the checklist goes on and on. Our Facilities Team is typically out the night before pre-salting sidewalks and parking lots, lighting our sites up to help us prepare.

And then it’s starting, snow is falling, and the fun begins…

Many of our team members get a 2:30 am wake-up call. The first crew heads in after they dig out at home, with our Managers already out driving the roads to determine if buses can run. Throughout the early morning hours, we see crews coming in at 5:00 am, and then 6:00 am, and then some whenever they can safely make it to site. Everyone knows the importance during snowstorms – to do our very best to clear our sites so we can keep schools open for our students.

After 12-hour shifts, crews leave exhausted and head home to rest and get ready for the next shift. Because after the snow stops, it’s not over for us. Next comes the cleanup, moving the piles of snow, checking the plugged drains, roof leaks, damaged curbs, potholes and mucky schools. Our team works to replenish materials and repair equipment and play catchup on the ten days’ worth of projects that were put on the back burner. Every day feels like Groundhog Day, where you often don't know what day it truly is.

Who is tired? Everyone! Who did a great job? Everyone! Who wants snow again? No one!!

Our grounds crews, mechanics, trades crews, general maintenance crews, delivery drivers, custodial, bus drivers, facilities clerical, foreman, managers, contractors and winter services personnel are the key folks involved during snowstorms. They’ve given up evenings with their families and weekends with their friends because they know that they make a difference in the lives of our students. They know that our schools are great places for kids, and they want to do their part to make them safe and accessible.

Those folks are the Difference Makers that we are celebrating this week, and who we extend a big thank you to.

Director of Facilities