Closing our schools during snowy weather

Trustee Anu Sriskandarajah

We receive a number of questions from members of our school communities about how the TDSB makes the decision to cancel buses and/or close all schools. A number of factors are taken into consideration when deciding on the cancellation of school buses, programs and/or closure of schools. The decision to cancel buses is not typically made due to unsafe road conditions, but because we want to avoid having students wait for unusually long periods of time in inclement weather for a bus or remain on that bus for hours due to weather-related traffic delays.

It’s also important to keep in mind that, unlike other school boards across the Greater Toronto Area, a vast majority of TDSB students — more than 90 percent — do not use school buses.  That means if school buses are cancelled, it is still possible for students to get to school by walking, public transit or other means — although it may be slower than normal. We do understand, however, that for our congregated sites or where we bus all students to the school, the majority of students are affected. On Wednesday, February 6, school buses were cancelled, however approximately 170,000 students attended school despite the inclement weather. On Tuesday, February 13, TDSB schools were closed for the first time in eight years.

As we hope you can appreciate, the decision concerning whether to keep schools open or closed has a major impact on the lives of many families in Toronto. Should all schools be closed, it causes significant hardship for many families. For a number of them, there are no other options readily available for their children. The decision to keep schools open allows families to keep their children at home if they can, but also provides another option for families who are not able to do the same. As always, we emphasize that parents/guardians make the final decision about whether to send their children to school. The TDSB supports whatever decisions parents/guardians make on days of severe weather.