Coronavirus: Are ‘snow days’ a thing of the past? London, Ont., school boards say possibly

The shift to online learning amid the novel coronavirus pandemic could mark the end of ‘snow days,’ where a school-based or system-wide shutdown occurs due to inclement weather.

London District Catholic School Board (LDCSB) director of education Linda Staudt says having students and teachers be connected on virtual platforms means students can still ‘go’ to school despite the weather outside.

“It’ll very be important, especially for our secondary school students,” Staudt adds, since they’re taking one class at a time. “They have those classes for about 22 to 24 days.

“There’s a lot of learning that takes place in a day and for them to miss a day is significant.”

“Every day is precious.”

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Coronavirus: TVDSB announces staggered start to elementary school year

In previous winters, inclement weather could occasionally lead to the cancellation of school buses. Schools often remained open for parents and guardians who were able to drop their kids off and pick them up.

Click to play video: Guelph school teacher sings Snow Day Sadness to empty school

But this upcoming winter might be different.

Mark Fisher, the director of education for the Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB) says no final decisions have been made about what snow days will be like, but “… we want to make commitments to students and parents that learning will continue regardless of the weather.”

“At the same time, we have to honour our collective agreements with our teachers, so we’ll do both of those things and we’ll figure this out over time,” Fisher added.

He also says the shift to electronic learning makes it more accessible for teachers and students to continue learning.

“It may not make all of our students happy initially, but I think it’s really important to (keep) this continuity of learning.”

Read more:
Coronavirus: nerves and excitement as students begin returning to class in London, Ont., region

Staudt says the first few heavy snowfalls will give the school board an opportunity to test out whether online learning works well if school buses are cancelled.

“For the kids, snow days where you’re at home and not learning may be a thing of the past,” she said.

For Fisher, it’s about finding a balancing of “… keeping students safe and also keeping the learning going.”

Click to play video: Trillium Lakelands District School Board opts to close schools on ‘snow days’