Report on storm days in N.S. will help school boards update closure policies

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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HALIFAX - Nova Scotia school boards are doing a good job in deciding when to shut schools due to bad weather, but the author of a report on storm day closures says there is room for improvement.
Jim Gunn, who was a superintendent in the Annapolis Valley for 15 years, said Wednesday he has little beef with how administrators decide to close schools when the weather turns bad - a decision generally made in the wee hours in consultation with meteorologists and those watching the roads.
"I think boards are doing well overall, especially with regards to safety," said Gunn.
He was commissioned by the Education Department to review storm closures, particularly after last year when schools were shut anywhere from 71/2 to 12 days because of bad weather.
"But after the decision is made to cancel the buses, what else can happen during the day? Are there other options?"
Some of the examples he cites include: starting school an hour or two later once roads are clear; keeping schools open where it's safe for children to walk to school even if buses are cancelled; considering the possibility of keeping high schools open even if schools for lower grades are closed; and preparing "learning packages" to send home with students when storm days add up.
Perhaps one of the more potentially contentious recommendations is that teachers use snow days for "professional collaboration time."
Under their collective agreement, teachers are not required to be at school if schools are closed.
"It should be discussed with the teachers and the teachers union," he said.
Gunn said school administrators also need to talk to parents about alternate ideas.
"I emphasize the need to discuss it with families because they're the ones affected," he said. "Decisions like this throw off your babysitting schedule and plans for the day so they've got to be involved."

Organizations: Nova Scotia school, Education Department

Geographic location: Annapolis Valley

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Recent comments

  • Student
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I agree completely, I know teachers who complain that they are behind and have a hard time catching up.
    Well go to work, you're not a child.

  • Jeremy
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    Most of the reason that u all want school to stay open is because you rely on teachers to babysit your kids if its not safe dont send them. Plows and drivers have a hard time seeing in storms so I dont think ur kid walkin to school is the safest idea. Yes teachers complain about being behind I think maybe when a storm closes school kids should have extra work assigned for them at school when there is a storm warning

  • DJ
    February 24, 2010 - 23:45

    I have no issue with keeping students who are bused to schools off the roads on bad days but I have a real issue with the teachers having a day off every time there is the threat of snow. Students who are within walking distance to the school and teachers should be at school if at all possible. Growing up I lived within walking distance of my school and was always expected to be at school even if the buses were not running due to poor road conditions. The majority of adults outside of the school system are expected to go to work or else they usually have to use a vacation day. Why should it be different for teachers? I would think that there is some planning that can be done at school or teaching the students who can walk to school on storm days.