It’s the talk of the hour: Snow Days.
With tons of snow, bone-chilling weather, and icy slick roads, schools all across the province have declared snow days on multiple occasions so far this year.
Yet, the decision to officially close a school takes a lot of thought and consideration.
“We are looking at two primary criteria,” says Bob Earle, Director of Emergency Services at Fanshawe College. “Number one is if London Transit is operating okay. Secondly, is how accessible is the campus once students get here: are the sidewalks clear, are the parking lots clear?”
How Much Snow?
These two criteria merely act as considerations for a school closure. Earle admits that the amount of snow is not something they thing about. Instead, he says there is another tipping point.
“I think it has less to do with the amount of snow than the rate of snow,” says Earle. “If it’s falling very quickly and we cannot keep up with it that becomes an issue.”
Who Makes the Decision?
A committee of people at Fanshawe collects information on the weather from various sources and puts together a forecast for the next 12 hours. However, students are also advised that they should decide on whether or not it’s safe to come to school.
“If you’re driving from a distance, you might be driving through weather conditions that we are unaware of here at our campus. Ultimately, you have to decide if it’s in your best interest to come to school,” says Earle.
Both Fanshawe and Western have been criticized for keeping their campuses open despite poor weather.
At times when the Thames Valley District School Board closed 20 elementary and secondary schools, Fanshawe and Western still decided to keep classes running. Earle says it all has to do with growing up.
“Children obviously have different needs than adults have. I think anytime we do not cancel classes, there are people who are going to be critical of that. But equally, when we do cancel classes, there’s a similar number of people that will be critical that we did,” notes Earle.
Earle admits that they try very hard to keep campus open because of the disruption it causes students and staff as well as the financial implications it may cause.