On snow days bused students generally stay home when the harshest winter days mean bus cancellations, something that seems to be a common, positive memory for rural kids.
Town kids are often expected to trudge on into class or get dropped off to school by parents.
But under new rules brought in by Trillium Lakelands District School Board, snow days now mean schools are closed – period.
However, teachers – whether they stay home or come to school – will be expected to teach online then, and students will be expected to log in and learn.
And it may be a permanent change, according to Wes Hahn, director of education.
The new protocol was set up to limit cohort interactions and lost instructional time, the latter so important with the octoblock system where learning is concentrated in 22-day blocks of one subject.
In the past, when buses did not run because of inclement weather, schools remained open.
Every school would have a skeleton crew of students who were still present because often parents did not have an alternative safe place for their children to spend the day and those students would be combined together into makeshift classrooms so that some learning could occur that day.
Public health has told the board that the mixing of cohorts on a snow day is not allowed.
“Learning will be occurring on snow days,” Hahn said, “and this may be a permanent change moving forward.”
Hahn cited the limited number of instructional days available, particularly in a secondary school octoblock, and said that even a couple of non-instructional days lost to inclement weather could have significant educational impact on student learning.