Resource:Snow Removal Policy for Schools

Once a school district has made the decision that the school facilities will be open during inclement weather, it is imperative that the vehicle and pedestrian areas on the school property are cleared of ice and snow to reduce the potential for slips, falls and vehicle accidents.  This requires both flexibility and planning to make sure adequate resources are available prior to the arrival of students, staff, and visitors.  The following are some risk management considerations for school districts that are subject to snow storms.

Contractor vs. In-house Staff

Many school districts use a combination of subcontractors and in-house staff to provide the equipment and people necessary to clear the roads, parking areas, and walking paths.  The most common scenario is for the subcontractor to plow the large parking areas while the custodial staff and buildings and grounds crew clear the walking areas.  In selecting a subcontractor, the district should make sure that the contractor has adequate resources to respond on a timely basis.  The district should be a priority client that receives the first (and sometimes repeated) efforts by the contractor to keep the areas clear.  Some contracts contain terms that define who is responsible for requesting/authorizing the snow removal expenditure, who is responsible for accepting the request from the district, the estimated removal costs (fee schedule) based on the amount of snow removed, and response times expected.

School District Policy 

The school district should have a written policy that states the district will endeavor to remove snow and ice as reasonably as possible depending on particular conditions at the time.  There are many variables that impact the ability of the district to remove and maintain the areas surrounding the school including timing of the storm, temperatures, wind, drifting snow, sun, shaded areas, etc. The policy should also address the following areas:


The procedure should discuss the types of equipment that is available and expected to be used.  The staff positions responsible for maintaining and using the specific equipment should be identified.  Ice melt should be positioned in areas of high traffic and similarly, it should be defined when and where they will regularly use ice melt. 


Weather forecasts and district communications are important to assure the proper staff and equipment is available in advance of the storm.  Flexibility in work schedules and the ability to approve overtime is important to assure that maximum staff effort is available in advance of, during, and after a snow storm.


Finally, documentation of snow and ice removal efforts is important. Personnel would document the time of each snow removal and placement of ice melt. If a district can show they have a procedure in place, personnel assigned the responsibility, adequate equipment and subcontractor support and then document that they are following the procedure, this provides some defense in the event of a claim such as a slip or fall on school property.