Your top eight snow day questions answered

Bus cancellations and snow days are inevitable in Simcoe County. Each time buses are (or aren’t!) cancelled, we receive many questions from students, parents and community members. Here are the top eight questions we receive and our responses:

1. Where do I find out which zones are cancelled?
Visit simcoecountyschoolbus.ca to see if buses are cancelled in any zones. This information is generally posted between 6 and 6:30 a.m. It is also shared by the Simcoe County Student Transportation Consortium (SCSTC) on Twitter @SCSTC_SchoolBus, and local radio stations and other media outlets are notified. Inclement weather cancellations are effective for the whole day. Buses cancelled in the morning will not run at the end of the day.

Parents and families can subscribe to receive notifications from the SCSTC when their bus is cancelled or delayed by more than 15 minutes. Visit the SCSTC website to subscribe.

2. What zone is my school in?
Look up your school on the SCSTC website or visit the SCDSB’s Weather Zones  You can also look on your school’s website. There is a button titled ‘Bus Information’ that lists your zone.

3. How is the decision to cancel buses made?
To determine if school vehicles will be cancelled, early morning assessments of the road and weather conditions are reviewed during a 5:30 a.m. conference call between the SCSTC and School Vehicle Operators. During the 5:30 am conference call, the SCSTC and School Vehicle Operators review:

  • assessment of current road conditions
  • assessment of current and projected weather information
  • assessment of current visibility as it relates to the safe operation of school vehicles
  • assessment of current and forecasted precipitation in the form of snow accumulation on roads and freezing rain as it relates to the safe operation of school vehicles
  • confirmation if snow plows have been out on the roads
  • gathering additional information on road conditions from available local services and resources

School Vehicle cancellations may be:

  • specific to a single weather zone
  • include multiple weather zones
  • a total Simcoe County wide cancellation

4. Why aren’t schools closed when buses are cancelled?
Many students in the SCDSB do not take school buses or other school vehicles to school. In fact, some of our schools have a large majority of students who walk, and often have high attendance even on days when buses in their zone are cancelled. The SCDSB procedure related to inclement weather states “Every reasonable effort will be made to keep all schools open each day for those students who are able to attend. The principal of each school shall arrange for suitable and appropriate learning activities for those students who are present. School staffs are expected to plan for such emergencies in order to provide meaningful programs for those students who are able to attend under inclement weather conditions.”

Supervision of children is also a consideration. If schools were closed when buses are cancelled, that could place an added childcare burden on families. As a board, we know parents depend on us to keep schools open whenever possible.

5. My child walks, but buses are cancelled at his or her school. Should I send them?
It is always a family decision whether or not to send students to school. If your children will be staying home, please contact the school’s safe arrival number. Students who can’t make it to school on bus cancellation days are marked ‘G’ (Grant Day). On a Grant Day, the school acknowledges that the student is away, but it doesn’t count on their report card.

6. Why do staff still have to go to school when buses are cancelled?
Our staff are responsible adults who can make the best choices for their own personal safety. We have a procedure related to inclement weather that we expect staff to adhere to. This procedure gives staff the ability to assess their situation and decide if they are able to safely get to work, and outlines the implications of their decision.

7. Is the event/meeting/activity scheduled at my school still happening?
For school-based events, you should contact your school directly. Many schools also post information on their website or share cancellations and postponements on Twitter.

8. It’s cold outside. Why aren’t buses cancelled and schools closed? Why do students still have to go out for recess?
It is the responsibility of the SCDSB to ensure that schools are open for student learning in all but the most extreme circumstances. Buses and schools are able to function in cases of extreme cold. We encourage parents to ensure that students who walk to school are dressed appropriately for the elements.

We have a procedure regarding outdoor breaks during extreme weather that schools are expected to adhere to. Both the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) recommend minimum temperature limits for outdoor play. These organizations and the SCDSB recommend that children be kept indoors if the temperature falls below -25°C, or if the wind chill is -28°C or greater (Canadian Paediatric Society, 2009). We encourage principals to use their professional judgment when making decisions regarding outdoor recesses on extremely cold days.

One thought on “Your top eight snow day questions answered

  1. Sharon Sweeney

    Thank you for doing the tough job of making these decisions that are criticized daily! It’s not always the right call, but I appreciate you all keeping our children safe 😊👍

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