Snow Days

Winter has finally started to hit in Ontario.  Lots of cold, freezing rain, snow, wind, and questions about whether schools are open.

Of course, it makes it difficult when the roads are closed.  Huron-Perth, Bruce-Grey areas are always affected when anything comes over Lake Huron.  I noticed, courtesy of 511 Ontario that there were many road closures and warnings Monday morning.

Roads in amber and white run the range of everything that’s not “bare” as shown in black.  Overall, it’s not looking like a pleasant driving day in many areas.

Apparently, Highway 23 from Mitchell through Listowel was closed and Highway 21 along the lake is always vulnerable to the weather coming from Lake Huron.  Most school districts have web sites for reporting road conditions and I would imagine that they were hit hard as teachers, students, parents, and others want to know about the status of things.

Even worse than just a road closure is a bridge closure! “Ontario’s Nipigon River bridge fails, severing Trans-Canada Highway“.  Yikes. That will take more than a bit of warm weather to fix.

Now, as a kid, I know that we’d be listening to the radio or just looking out the front window to see how things were.  The ultimate test was if the snow plough had been down the road and we had to dig the driveway to get the family car out.  You had to do it discreetly because you didn’t want to mess up things for road hockey after work.  Since we walked to school, whether or not the buses were running was irrelevant to us town kids.  My parents insisted that we go to school.  “You can always get extra help”.

Later, as a teacher myself, I knew the feeling when you have only a few students in the class.  Our principal was adamant that, if students showed up, they were entitled to the same education that they would get on a non-snow day.  His message was always that every minute counted and that you would never allow for anything less than the best experiences for students.  Those that weren’t there could just get caught up later.

So, this morning, I was just checking social media accounts for schools that I knew to be online.  I was surprised to read this message.  “Buses cancelled today.  No buses. School is open for those who can arrive safely. No regular classes for students.”   I won’t mention the school.  I thought back to my principal.  He would never, ever allow a message like that to get out to the community.  If the school was open, then he expected that there would be an educational program available for students.

In the computer science classroom, there never was an issue.  For the wonderful students that I had, they just enjoyed extra computer time.  Since we weren’t 1:1, they knew that the scheduling timetable would be adjusted when the weather cleared and everyone was back.  For those moments, Mr. Peterson just let them have at it.  They were even allowed to play the music in the room a little louder.

It definitely is easier if all students are there or no students are there.  But, what about the scenario when there’s only half a class – ish?  What is your approach or your school’s approach?  Is the educational glass half-full or half-empty?  What message is sent for students and parents?  With social media, there are all kinds of opportunity to send that message.

Published by dougpete

The content of this blog is created by me at the keyboard or as a result of an aggregator of my daily reading under the title OTR Links. On Fridays, look for my signature post "This Week in Ontario Edublogs" where I try to share some great writing from Ontario Educators. The other regular post appears Sunday mornings as I try to start a conversation about things that have gone missing from our daily lives.

4 thoughts on “Snow Days

  1. Such a great post, Doug! Our Board has an “all or nothing” policy when it comes to Snow Days. If buses are cancelled, schools are closed, and nobody goes into work. Even the Board Office is closed. That said, I teach in an area where many students walk to school. I’ve found that if the weather is bad (really cold or really snowy), there are lots of additional absences. I could go days — or last year, with the extreme cold spell — even weeks with 1/3 to 1/2 (or more) of my students away. I cannot put learning on hold for that long. As such, we always just continue as usual. When the students come back, they join back into the learning, and I give additional support as needed. This is where my nightly blog post helps. Parents see photographs, videos, and information about our day at school, and can then support and/or extend the learning at home. Many do. With a day off of school, at least the learning doesn’t have to stop for the students that can’t come in.

    I’m curious to hear how others respond to this!


  2. Where we are, most high school students do not come in, but we do have grade 7/8 students show up on occasion. We have a full day planned for snow days – we each have a subject area of focus and teach 40 minute blocks. We all know where the snow day folders are, so if one of our number cannot safely get to the school, anyone could pitch in and teach their block.


  3. I teach aT a school where most of my kidlets walk. That said, a Monday snow day, particularly for my intermediates, meant an extra long weekend for most. I had 2/3 to 1/2 of each of my classes away. What did that look like? A chance for some great small-group playing in music, and some number focus (with games) in French. We also worked on our Arabic number practice, as, of course, my newest students were at school. 🙂


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