School Closures- WEATHER or Not to Stay Open

A part of living in Canada is dealing with the weather that comes along during the winter. It isn’t always safe to get to school by car or buses so the school board decides to either delay buses, cancel buses or close the school.  When buses are delayed the board picks a time when the roads will be safe enough for buses to drive and they will pick up the students then. When buses are cancelled, students who take school buses are exempted from school, where all the other students are still expected to go. When the school is closed this means no one is to show up to school because the weather makes it unsafe for people to travel.

Typically the Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) will make the call to close schools or cancel buses early in the morning by 6am. There are multiple ways WRDSB communicates closures and cancellations so everyone is able to hear about it in time. They put announcements online on their webpage, on the radio, on social media pages and finally there is an email sent to parents who have signed up for email notifications. However, some methods of communication aren’t as effective as others. A parent of a student that attends WCI said “I got an email saying buses were cancelled at 9:30am. This wasn’t effective since by the time I received the email school had already started. I think the other methods of communication are better.”

Bus delays or cancellations affect many students within the WRDSB area. The remaining students have to find their own way to school if it remains open. Cancellations also affect the kids that don’t take buses to school because usually less than half of their class is present, so teachers do not teach a lesson, instead they give them a work period. If a student was to go to four classes in a day and have work periods in each class then what was the point of them even going to school when they could do the same thing at home.

There are times when the school board makes calls that are not always the right ones. For example on December 15th, 2016 there was a big snow storm, the roads weren’t plowed and the snow that was falling turned to ice the minute it landed. On this day only buses were cancelled when really the school should have been closed because the driving conditions were dangerous. Then later that day the roads looked better and the snow had stopped but the board decided to close night school. Many students were upset about having to go to day school but having night school closed, especially since it was their final exams that were postponed. A student that attended both day school and night school said “I was frustrated that I had to drive through terrible conditions to get to school during the day and then getting an email saying that my night school exam had been postponed even though the roads were fine by then. I wish they kept it consistent.”

The official board policy is that schools will close when they feel it is not safe for the students to get there. When buses are cancelled, does this mean it is unsafe for some students to get to school but not others?

Often the decision to cancel buses or close the school is made by what the board thinks the weather will be as opposed to what is actually happening outside. When the weather changes their decisions often seem wrong. What some people might not know is that when the schools in the region close the board office also closes. Does this make it easier for them to decided to close on a Friday or Monday and have a long weekend? The decisions the school board makes whether to close the school or keep them open often lacks consistency and is most times questionable. As for cancelling buses, since the school doesn’t have real classes that day perhaps they should consider just closing the school entirely.