New Brunswick

What goes into declaring snow days — and when they become a worry

David McTimoney, superintendent of the Anglophone West School District, says district superintendents will soon start talking to New Brunswick government officials about the rising number of snow days this winter.

In Anglophone West, schools have lost 6 to 9 days so far this winter because of weather

Snow days are quickly adding up in New Brunswick since the January ice storm. (CBC)

As the snow continues to pile up, so do snow days in New Brunswick schools. 

David McTimoney, superintendent of the Anglophone West School District, says district superintendents will start talking soon with Department of Education officials about all the snow days so far this winter and what should be done about the lost time.

Over the past few months, six to nine days have been lost in Anglophone West schools because of weather.

"That's starting to creep up," McTimoney said Wednesday, as southern New Brunswick prepared for its second snowstorm in a week.

Decision-making starts early

McTimoney said there's a process that goes into deciding whether the district will close when the weather is bad. 

"It starts really the night before, with pending weather in the forecast," he said. "There's a great transportation team with our district who are up very, very early in the morning. Sometimes they sleep with one thumb out the window all night long."

Team members examine weather sites and watch video surveillance of highways throughout the region. They also talk to snowplow operators and supervisors to gauge what's happening on the roads and the how cleanup is going.

At around 5:15 a.m., the district typically makes its decision on whether to keep schools open.

And it will be doing that again Thursday morning as another storm moves into New Brunswick, bringing in up to 30 centimetres of snow, according to the weather forecast.

"We'll be awake early tomorrow morning," McTimoney said.

Last year was a good year, with only four or five days lost to snow, but a few years earlier, the number of snow days was in the double digits.  

Anglophone East studies impact

Gregg Ingersoll, superintendent of the Anglophone East School District, told Information Morning Moncton this week that he is concerned about the rising number of snow days.

The Anglophone East School District will look at the cumulative effect of so much lost classroom time, Ingersoll said, and teachers are already making adjustments.

"Depending on how many more days we miss between now and the end of March, we start to think about bigger-picture things, like activities we're doing in school that take students out of class and professional learning days," he said.

David McTimoney, superintendent with the Anglophone West School District, says snow days are climbing this winter but hey haven't reached the double digits of a few years past. (Shane Fowler/CBC)
McTimoney said Anglophone West hasn't decided to do anything yet, but those conversations will start soon.

"We know that teachers are very good at adjusting their lessons and their planning, so they can make sure they cover the essential learning outcomes," he said.

In an interview with Information Morning Fredericton, he said two professional development days lie ahead, something Anglophone East may also look at as a way to make up for lost time.

With files from Information Morning Fredericton