Snow Day — two words that spark joy for some — chaos for others.
Parents across the country have been forced to scramble in recent weeks as wintry conditions have prompted schools to shut, with some regions recording an unusually high number of closures.
The disruption to daily routine unleashes a pre-dawn scramble in many households, a juggling act that sees some parents work from home, drop kids at a babysitter’s or trudge into the office with charges in tow.
While student safety is consistently cited as the driving force behind snow days, the wide variety of policies in different parts of the country demonstrate how subjective those decisions can be.
An examination of storm day procedures reveals a haphazard patchwork of varying approaches to inclement weather across Canada that appear to be based on a region’s common practice and culture as much as the forecast.
While schools in the Prairie provinces virtually never close for bad weather, schools on Canada’s East Coast regularly shut down during snow storms.
In B.C., Ontario and Quebec, schools tend to call snow days sparingly.
Still, the number of snow days remains higher in the Maritimes, with some school boards consistently reporting double-digit school closures over a winter.
Halifax tends to have fewer snow days than more rural areas, averaging about 4.4 snow days a year over the last decade.
But that’s still more than double the number of school closures in similar-sized cities in Quebec and Ontario.
For example, Quebec City averages 1.75 snow days a year, while the Hamilton area averages 1.6 days – though this year it’s had substantially more.
Meanwhile, the contrast between Atlantic Canada and the Prairies is even more dramatic.
When asked the number of snow days for the last 10 years, a spokeswoman for Edmonton Public Schools answered — “Zero.”
A response from the Winnipeg School Division was similar.
Spokesman Radean Carter says we have not had a ‘snow day’ in over 30 years, saying schools remain open unless city buses are shut down.
Schools in Saskatchewan also rarely close – if ever.
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