Schoolroom sleepovers


Emergency plan for snowed-in kids.

Staying at school overnight could be on the cards for local students if the Wakatipu is hit by a major snowstorm.

Schools are preparing for the worst to ensure the safety of kids and their families if road closures mean they can’t get home.

Wakatipu High, Queenstown Primary, Arrowtown School and St Joseph’s Primary have forged a plan, together with Queenstown Lakes District Council, Civil Defence, transport providers and local radio stations, in the event of heavy snowfalls interrupting the school day.

Case in point – senior teachers were busy early Tuesday morning phoning roading officials to assess conditions after snow fell to low levels.

The usual school closures or delayed buses apply after heavy snowfall overnight, but kids may have to be kept at school overnight if roads close during the day.

That’s when Civil Defence kicks in – they’ll coordinate transport of bedding from places such as the Salvation Army and Red Cross and organise how to feed snowed-in kids.

“We’d help the schools so if they needed to go and get food we may offer assistance to do that but we’re not going to rock up there with 1000 pizzas or anything,” QLDC emergency management boss Brenden Winder says.

It’s the second year local schools have had the plan in place and principals say it’s unlikely they’ll ever have to use it.

“It’s putting the safety of kids and families first so we don’t have to put them under that stress of driving in those conditions when they can be safe here at school,” says Arrowtown School principal Robin Harris.

Wakatipu High head Lyn Cooper is unsure if teenagers would be segregated – but they’d be supervised: “It’ll depend on numbers and the situation at the time.”

Local radio stations will broadcast what schools are doing in the event of snowfall.