Wildfire and Air Quality Information

The safety of our students, staff, schools, and the greater community is always our top priority of Grande Yellowhead Public School Division. Our schools practice safety procedures multiple times per year as part of our emergency planning/preparedness cycle.

The Division has a Critical Incident Team that works with local, municipal, and provincial stakeholders during times of emergencies to ensure that our staff, students, and school communities are top priority. The Team collaborates closely with local emergency personnel to ensure plans are coordinated with appropriate agencies. The Division’s plans do not replace the authority of law enforcement, fire, or EMS – staff members. As such, we work in full cooperation with these agencies. This team can be contacted by email at incidentcommand@gypsd.ca.

As we enter a new wildfire season, we hope the following information is helpful in preparing your family in the event of an emergency. We also encourage you to discuss school safety with your child and any concerns they may have.

There are many ways to keep you current with what is happening during the school months. Please ensure that you download the Bus Status app to keep apprised of any route delays and/or cancellations, accept 'yes' to receiving texts as well as emails and
calls from School Messenger as this is the school's main source of forwarding critical information to families in times of emergencies, and check your school's and the Division's Facebook page for updates. You may also find it helpful to download the Alberta Emergency Alert app and the Alberta Wildfire app.

For the 2024 Wildfire Season, the Province of Alberta declared an early start to wildfire season on February 20, 2024 as “Alberta is experiencing warmer than normal temperatures and below average precipitation in many areas of the province, leading to heightened wildfire risk.”

Wildfire Preparation Checklist for Families

Red Cross Emergency Plan

Provincial Information

Wildfire Smoke and Air Quality

Mental Health Supports

  • Some Other Solutions: Crisis Line: 780-743-4357
  • Mental Health Helpline: Offers help for mental health concerns for Albertans: 1-877-303-2642 (24 Hours)
  • Health Link: Free nurse advice and general health information for Albertans: 811 (24 hours)
  • First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness: Call if you are experiencing emotional distress and want to talk: 1-855-242-3310

Potential Evacuation Information


Evacuations may occur at any time as the result of an imminent threat to life safety. Examples can include fire, chemical spill, gas leak, etc. Students will be escorted by staff to a safe location outside the school. As the incident is occurring, access to and from the school is restricted and carefully monitored.


Evacuation Alerts - First Stage

1 – Evacuation alert

Please note at this stage, schools remain open. Families are welcome to pick up their children at any time but operations remain normal until circumstances change. At no time will students be released to people other than those noted on emergency contact forms with the school so please ensure that all emergency contact information are kept fully up-to-date with the school. You must have identification with you to pick up your children.

  • There is a potential danger in the area and you may have to evacuate. Be ready to leave on short notice.
  • Emergency officials will notify the population at risk of the need to evacuate
  • Information about the nature of the danger will be further communicated
  • Conditions can quickly change, and result in very short notice evacuation orders

Evacuation Orders - Second Stage

2 – Evacuation order: You must leave the area now. It is not safe to stay. 

When an evacuation order is issued...schools go immediately into a 30 minute evacuation notice. Families will be notified through School Messenger by text and/or email so please ensure that you are set up to receive these critical messages from your school(s). Notifications will also be posted on the Division's Facebook page.

Families will now have 30 minutes to pick up their child(ren) from their school from the order announcement before students will be transported to a reunification site outside of the evacuation zone. At no time will students be released to people other than those noted on emergency contact forms with the school so please ensure that all emergency contact information are kept fully up-to-date with the school. Please ensure that you bring photo identification with you when picking up your children.

REUNIFICATION SITES: Reuniting With Your Child

Once an evacuation order is issued and the 30 minute window has expired, all remaining students at the school will be transported to an alternate location outside of the evacuation zone without exception for health and safety reasons. 

Families are asked to adhere to the parent-child reunification procedures listed below. Staff will work hard to ensure these procedures take place without delay. However, please understand the process will still take some time: we ask for your patience when you arrive at the Parent-Child Reunification Centre.

Parent-Child Reunion Procedures

  1. A Parent-Child Reunion Area will be established. Parents will be notified at the time of the emergency of the Reunification Area’s location through School Messenger and through social media.
  2. You will be required to fill out a Student Release Request Form. This ensures all students are accounted for at all times and students are only released to authorized individuals.
  3. Students will only be released to an individual designated as legal guardian or emergency contact. Please be sure to keep this information current with your school, as the school will only release a child to someone listed as an Emergency Contact — there will be no exceptions.
  4. Valid photo identification is required to pick up your child. This is required to protect your child from any unauthorized individuals attempting to pick up students. Even if school personnel know you, you must still present photo I.D. as the school may be receiving assistance from other schools or outside agencies.
  5. You will be required to sign for the release of your child. This is extremely important, as it ensures your child, along with other students, are accounted for at all times. Please do not just take your child from the school or evacuation centre without signing for his/her release.
  6. Once you have been reunited with your child, please leave the area immediately. This is for your own safety and that of your child. If you are unable to pick up your child, he/she will be kept at the Reunification Site until alternate arrangements can be made. Your child will be supervised at all times.

All Clear - Third Stage

3 – All clear from authorities RE-ENTRY

  • You may return to the area, the danger has passed.
  • If the danger returns, an Evacuation Alert or Order may be issued again

Once it has been declared safe, school operations will return to normal. 

Air Quality Information

Wildfire smoke can cause unhealthy air quality in areas many miles away from the fire.

GYPSD uses the Air Quality Index and other factors to determine when to implement various safety protocols to limit smoke and ash health risks in our schools. These may include having students limit or cancel all outdoor activities, close all windows and doors to minimize outside air intake, and the installation of carbon filters. During extreme and lengthy very high risk conditions, school operations may also be affected.

Heavy smoke and/or falling ash may also contribute to dangerous road conditions with poor visibility or poor air quality in school buses which may cause route delays or cancellations.

Families should be aware that smoke and ash conditions can change quickly.

Older adults, young children, pregnant women, and people with heart disease or lung disease (such as asthma) may be especially sensitive to health risks from wildfire smoke.

Air Quality Guidelines for Schools