School day or snow day? Durham, Halton and Niagara school boards waiting to decide

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Published January 17, 2022 at 11:29 pm

Schoolchildren and parents went to bed on Monday night without knowing if they’ll have their first in-person school day of the calendar year.

Due to the volume of snow that fell across Southern Ontario, school boards for the Durham, Halton and Niagara regions are not sure if the buses will be running tomorrow morning (Jan. 18). Several have not made a definitive decision about whether to have in-person learning, or switch to remote learning. Children have been doing the latter since Jan. 5, when they came back from a holiday break break that was slightly extended by the Omicron-fed fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Monday was to have been their first day in class since Dec. 17, exactly one month earlier.


Here is the latest information from all three regions’ major school boards.

Durham Region

The area’s Catholic board advises that school buses may be cancelled. Parents can check Durham Student Transportion Services to see if their bus is running. There was no further indication about contingency plans for students who are stranded.

The Durham District public board (DDSB) said it was “monitoring potential snow impacts on school (and) bus operations.” It said it would announce early Tuesday whether it was closing schools, or shifting students to remote learning.

“Should any decision be made to close in-person schools or shift to other modes of learning, we will post on DDSB social media & websites,” the DDSB stated.

Halton Region

It appears there will be some school cancellations down along the northwest shore of Lake Ontario. Both the Catholic and public board in Halton Region, which comprises Burlington, Oakville, Milton and Halton Hills, encouraged parents to review reminders regarding potential closures or bus cancellations and delays.

Halton District School Board did not publicly announce any cancellations, but there were reports in Toronto-based media that it is cancelling all instruction, including virtual. A Twitter user, responding to the Halton Catholic board’s account, also said they had already received notification of bus cancellations across transportation zones 1, 2, 3.

Up-to-date information may be found at haltonbus.ca.

Niagara Region

The area that includes Niagara Falls, St. Catharines and Welland received up to 50 cm of snow in some areas. Both boards sent a message that amounted to, ‘if you don’t hear from us, come to school.’

Niagara’s public board held out hope for in-person learning, saying announcements on bus cancellations would come out before 6 a.m.

“If we don’t post anything, you can go to school in-person!” the District School Board of Niagara account posted on Twitter.

The Niagara Catholic school board said it would leave the decision to the morning, which is how boards treated potential snow days during the pre-COVID before times. Parents and caregivers of students would be told of a closure through email or text message.

“We’ll make a game-day decision, so be up early to get the news,” they wrote. “NEW – no phone call if the system is closed, just text or email, as well as on our website and socials. Sleep tight!”

Elsewhere in Southern Ontario, both the Catholic and public boards in Mississauga, Brampton and Peel Region are opting for remote learning on Tuesday. The two major Hamilton boards have cautioned about bus cancellations or delays, but plan to be open.

The Toronto District School Board also announced a cancellation for the second successive day.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario schoolchildren have lost more days of in-person learning than their counterparts in every other part of Canada and the United States.

School boards prioritized keeping classrooms open this fall, at the outset of a third consecutive COVID-affected school year. After classes wrapped on Dec. 17 for the holiday break and Omicron cases and hospitalizations began to rise, there was no word on in-person schooling until Dec. 31.

It took a second announcement from Premier Doug Ford on Jan. 3 to disclose that remote learning would be in place until Jan. 17. As noted, the winter storm thwarted those plans.

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