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Pandemic changes policies on ‘snow days’ for some Greater Toronto Area school boards

Click to play video 'COVID-19 pandemic changes policies on ‘snow days’ for some GTA school boards' COVID-19 pandemic changes policies on ‘snow days’ for some GTA school boards
WATCH ABOVE: School boards across the Greater Toronto Area are changing policies as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic with many shifting to online learning on days that bad winter weather causes bus cancellations or schools to be closed. Kamil Karamali reports – Dec 1, 2020

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to online learning, some GTA school boards are using the new tool to avoid students losing a day of learning due to snowy, rainy and icy winter weather that may force bus transportation to be cancelled or schools to be closed.

Peel District School Board

Peel District School Board has changed its policy on “snow days” such that if buses are cancelled in affected municipalities, schools are now cancelled.

Instead, students will switch to virtual learning at home so school will no longer be missed due to snow days and inclement weather.

The board said previously that schools would remain open for staff and students who could arrive safely and classrooms would be combined. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, PDSB said this is no longer a safe option and does not align with COVID-19 guidance and direction from Peel Public Health and the Ministry of Education as different cohorts would mix together.

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When buses are cancelled, child care programs will remain open and the school will remain open to custodial staff and other staff to perform essential duties, the board said.

Peel District School Board said decisions to cancel buses or close schools will be made by 6:15 a.m. and posted to various social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).

Read more: Schools closed in Waterloo Region, buses running in Guelph amid winter storm

York Region District School Board

York Region District School Board said schools will be closed to students when an inclement weather day is declared and school transportation is cancelled.

“Please do not send your child to school when an inclement weather day is declared,” the board said on its website.

However, YRDSB said that student learning will continue virtually even if schools are closed.

Elementary students will be provided with learning activities for the day and teachers will be available online to support students, the board said.

For secondary students, they will also move to online learning for the day, the board said.

York Region District School Board said the changes are in place to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and adhere to health and safety guidelines.

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YRDSB said decisions due to bad weather will be made by 6 a.m.

Durham District School Board

Durham District School Board said if transportation buses for elementary students are cancelled due to winter weather, schools will remain open.

The board said its approach will remain the same as in previous years and it will be taking “extra health and safety measures in order to ensure that class cohorts remain intact and are appropriately supervised.”

However, for secondary students, there will be a change in policy.

Secondary students will be required to stay home and will switch to virtual learning in the event that transportation services are cancelled in affected zones due to bad weather, the board said.

DDSB said families will be notified as soon as possible — no later than 7 a.m. — through a post on its website and on social media accounts.

Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board

Dufferin-Peel Catholic School Board said that if school buses are cancelled in a region then all schools in that region will be closed.

Elementary students will be taught online through the Learning Management System from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

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Secondary students will also learn remotely for the day.

After school programs will also be closed on days that school buses are cancelled, the board said. However, all school-based child care centres will remain open, unless otherwise indicated, the board added.

DPCSB will provide cancellation notices on its website and social media accounts by 6 a.m.

Halton District School Board

Halton District School Board said when schools are closed due to inclement weather, both in-person and virtual schools will be cancelled.

The decision to cancel buses or close schools is made by 6:30 a.m., the board said.

Toronto District School Board

The Toronto District School Board has not yet commented on any changes to policies regarding school closures due to bad weather.

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