In the event of expected unsafe driving conditions due to a winter storm, a team confers no later than 9 pm the night before to make a decision about school closure the following day. On the rare occasion that an unexpected weather event occurs, the team will make a decision no later than 6:30 am. This is a decision that we do not take lightly at any time, and we appreciate the support of our parents who are faced with an often difficult and last-minute situation once they hear of an unexpected school closure.
Our decision is based on the predicted road conditions at either the beginning and/or the end of the school day. It has nothing to do with the amount of precipitation, but rather safety for driving conditions and whether or not snow can be cleared around the building. We take school bus cancellations into consideration but do not rely solely on that information.
As soon as the decision is made, we begin a comprehensive communication plan including sending an email to all parents and staff, updating our website, social media and changing the recording on our main school phone number. We also contact CBC, CFRB, and 680 News to include the information in their frequent “closures report” in the mornings.
It is tough decision to make knowing that it is so hard for so many people to be flexible and find proper care for their children on such short notice. We know that so many families have both parents working outside the home, in some cases in large part to fund their child’s Waldorf education, and when care cannot be arranged the impact on their work situation is also a tremendous difficulty.
We suggest that in each class some time is taken in the fall to identify families for whom last-minute childcare arrangements are especially difficult and see if there are other families in the class who may be able to help.
When school is closed due to weather, all other events in the school scheduled for that day are cancelled as well.
Even when buses are running and school is open, we always want families to make their own decision on whether the roads are safe enough to transport their children to school. Our decision to close school certainly takes into consideration the safety of parents and students driving to school, but also it is about the safety of our staff, many of whom drive quite long distances.
If school is open, our faculty and staff are almost all needed. Our substitution pool is quite small and unpredictable on any given day, and so the options are quite limited if those that work farther away were unable to make it to school or decide they shouldn’t risk the roads. If we were open and only local teachers arrived for work we would not be able to operate in any semblance of what we believe is appropriate for our students and what is expected of a school day at TWS.
Sometimes people look to an experience of how public schools handle snow days. The difference between us and the public schools, as we have been told, is that the public school teachers are intended to drive to their closest school to teach, rather than the school they typically teach at, so that their drive is not long and therefore not as risky. In that scenario, each school knows who they should expect, and presumably are ready with an alternate student-teacher plan. Other independent schools find themselves in the same situation as TWS.
Updated on December 14 2022