No more 'snow days': Windsor-Essex public board changes inclement weather policy
WINDSOR, ONT. -- The first major dumping of snow is typically a welcome occasion for students who look forward to the odd ‘snow day.’
But 2020 is a year unlike any other and thanks to online tools deployed due to COVID-19 — high school students in the public board were expected to be in class at home.
The public board posted at 6:20 a.m. Tuesday that student transportation was cancelled for the city and county — and secondary students will participate strictly in virtual classes.
“We do have the technology and means in place in order to continue the instruction,” said Shelley Armstrong, the Greater Essex County District School Board’s superintendent of business.
A release outlining the board’s new inclement weather policy was issued just last week — with the changes only affecting high school students. Elementary students not already in the virtual classroom are expected to get to school even when busses are cancelled.
It was a bit of a tease for Grade 12 Sandwich Secondary student, Kira Juodikis. She opened her drapes this morning to a fresh blanket of snow outside her bedroom window.
“I’m like Dad? Is there school? He’s like, nope. I’m like perfect,” said Juodikis. “Wake me up in another hour.”
She quickly learned that wasn’t entirely true — and jumped into her Spanish class.
“It definitely wasn’t a regular snow day. I would be sleeping in until later and I would have had a vacation off school for one day,” she said. “But it’s still okay. Now with all this online stuff, it’s crazy how we can just hop on whenever."
Her teacher, Chris Johns, says on a normal year when busses are cancelled, 20 per cent of students typically show up. On Tuesday, 90 per cent of students logged in.
He says a big reason for the policy change is due to the condensed, quadmestered format.
“I think there were a lot of disappointed students today,” Johns said. “But at the same time, if they miss a day of school right now, they’re missing three days.”
Over at the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, if you live in the city, you were expected to get to school. If you live in the county — you’re expected to take part in online instruction.
Elementary students without transportation were offered asynchronous learning opportunities.
While Tuesday was a quick pivot — teachers say it’s something students are getting used to.
“Hey you’re going to be online today, unexpectedly, but it’s not brand new to them,” Johns said. “They’ve been doing it for a while, so I find they’re really comfortable with the virtual world right now.”
The policy will remain in place through the 2020-2021 school year.