Cape Breton school boards defend snow day record
Boards criticized after schools were closed on Wednesday
Cape Breton's two major school boards are defending a decision to close schools on Wednesday after parents complained the weather wasn't bad enough to justify the closures.
Colleen MacMullin, the co-ordinator of transportation for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, said the decision to cancel school is a judgment call made after consulting meteorologists, the Department of Transportation and the police.
"I have a team of six people that phone in to give me the information of the surrounding areas that they are in," she said.
"The process begins probably at 4:30 to 5:30 in the morning and it takes almost two hours to consult everyone, for everyone to phone in and to make those decisions."
Terry Doyle, the co-ordinator of transportation for the Strait Regional School Board, said he follows much the same process as MacMullin — with special consideration for the rural nature of his area.
"We have 65,000 students over 11,000 square kilometres," he said.
"Ninety six to 97 per cent of our students are bused so if busing is cancelled, if we are not able to provide busing there would not be a viable reason to hold school."
Officials said they not only have to consider whether students can get to school safely, but whether they can get home safely as well. They said that was one of the main reasons for cancelling school on Wednesday.
The forecast on Wednesday called for about 10 to 15 centimetres of snow beginning in the late morning with winds gusting to 30 kilometres an hour.
Early Wednesday morning, Cape Bretoners woke up to cloudy skies with hardly any wind — leading many to question why school was cancelled.
Some took to Twitter to voice their frustration.
"We have established a zero tolerance policy towards snow: schools will close if there is any snow. How silly," tweeted Parker Donham, a blogger and commentator.
"Schools should be open when scheduled, if it is not safe to send your kid to school don't, but don't deprive other kids from learning," Shane Gallant tweeted.
"No rain, no serious wind, 10cms not enough to cancel," tweeted Adrian Wilson.
But several people backed the school boards' decision.
Vanessa Childs Rolls tweeted: "When it comes to school cancellations my son's safety is worth the scramble to arrange for one of us to work from home."
This school year, the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board has had seven snow days board wide and 10 snow days north of Smokey Mountain.