Ontario teachers already looking ahead to snow...
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Aug 14, 2014  |  Vote 0    0

Ontario teachers already looking ahead to snow days

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has voted this week to recommend boards close schools whenever busses are cancelled for bad weather, to spare staff having to drive on dangerous roads


It may be deep summer, but Ontario teachers are talking snow days.

The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario has voted this week to recommend boards close schools whenever buses are cancelled for bad weather, to spare staff having to drive on dangerous roads.

“No one’s looking for days off, but we want the same measure of concern for teachers as students, and if it’s not safe for buses, teachers shouldn’t be made to try to come to school either,” said Marg Macfarlane, president of the ETFO in the Halton District School Board.

The Halton union proposed a motion that was approved this week at ETFO’s annual meeting, that when an Ontario school board cancels school buses because of bad weather, it should close schools too. The union will now consider whether to call on Queen’s Park to look at the idea.

The Hamilton-Wentworth school board already has the policy — if buses are cancelled, schools are closed.

Currently most boards try to keep schools open even when buses are cancelled, and ask teachers to at least try to get to work. Most boards let teachers book off if they have tried and been unable to make it in; sometimes, but not always, with pay.

“This year in the big snow storm of Feb. 5, our schools were kept open but the school board meeting that night was cancelled because the roads weren’t safe (for trustees), which obviously sends a mixed message,” noted Halton teacher Rob Smolenaars, the union’s chief negotiator.

He noted that same day a Peterborough teacher was killed in a car accident on her way to work.

But many boards that have rural schools cancel buses more than six days a year, and closing schools that often it could have a “huge impact” on working and single parents, said Mark Joel, superintendent of education, operations and transportation for the Durham District School Board, which cancels buses five or six days a year, particularly north of Highway 7 and around Lake Scugog.

“In terms of the custodial role schools play in society, some parents are expected to be at work regardless of weather and some don’t have backup for their children if school is closed,” said Joel, adding that no teacher is ever forced to come to school if he or she feels the trip would be unsafe.

“Sometimes buses are cancelled because they can’t get along side-roads or because it’s too cold for students to wait at pickup spots, not because all roads are hazardous.”

The Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board cancelled buses board-wide three days last year – and a full 12 days in the windswept region around Orangeville, said board spokesperson Bruce Campbell.

“But the schools stayed open and even though some students stay home – especially in high schools – there still could be learning opportunities on those days.”

Peel District School Board cancelled buses board-wide twice last year, and six days around Caledon, “but there is an expectation that we will deliver an education to students and parents expect us to have our doors open if possible,” said spokesperson Carla Pereira. “Less than one-third of our students take the bus and the rest are in walking distance.

“But if staff feel they can’t make it to school safely after making a reasonable effort, they can call the principal.”

Toronto Star

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(2) Comment

By redbaron | AUGUST 18, 2014 04:13 PM
It's okay for all the non-teachers to go to work on treacherous roads, but heaven forbid teachers doing likewise. Give them the option to stay home and the next bargAining issue will be asking to be paid for it. The aRgument will be it's not my fault I can't get to work, therefore I shouldn't be losing a day's pay
By Peel | AUGUST 14, 2014 07:55 PM
I think I can't take anymore news about entiled teachers.
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