February 12, 2019 4:15 pm

York school boards defend choice to remain open during winter storm

WATCH ABOVE: A massive winter storm is expected to dump 25 cm of snow and has prompted the closure of most schools in the GTA.

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York Region District School Board (YRDSB) and the York Region Catholic District School (YRCDSB) board chose to keep their schools open, while most other boards in Toronto and the surrounding GTA shuttered their doors as the region was struck by a winter storm.

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“We take decisions around closing schools very seriously,” said manager of corporate communications for the YRDSB Christina Choo-Hum. “We put a lot of effort into keeping our schools open as much as possible for the safety of our students.”

Durham Region School Board (DRSB) also chose to keep their schools open. However, all three chose to cancel bus services.

READ MORE: Winter storm wallops Toronto, causes school closures, transportation delays on Tuesday

A winter storm warning was issued for most of southern Ontario as a weather system brought with it a mix of snow, freezing rain and ice pelts on Tuesday.

The Toronto District School Board, the largest school board in Canada with 246,000 students in 582 schools, called its first snow day since 2011. Toronto Catholic District School Board closed all its schools, too.

READ MORE: Latest school closures, bus cancellations in the Greater Toronto Area for Feb. 12, 2019

Choo-Hum said that while they do look at what other boards are doing, they mostly rely on local weather conditions. Choo-Hum said that conditions vary across the regions and they felt Toronto was being hit a lot worse than York region.

“It’s about making sure our students, our staff and our schools are opened for those that need to have them opened,” she said.

“Parents have the opportunity to keep their kids at home … If parents choose for safety reasons to keep their kids home, they can do that, we just ask parents let their schools know if they’re keeping their kids at home so we know where they are.”

Staff also have a number of options based on the board’s policies and procedures available to them.

“Staff members can attend the closest school to their home location, they don’t have to go to their home school,” Choo-Hum said.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Choo-Hum said the board saw varying attendance across the region. Some schools had up to three-quarters of its students show up for the day.

And for those classes that may have little to no children in it, for those that attend, Choo-Hum said they will be able to participate in activities that are stimulating but fun.

With files from Catherine McDonald

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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