Nfld. & Labrador

What's too cool for school? NLTA wants 1 temperature for winter school closings

The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' union wants a one-temperature-fits-all policy implemented for closing schools in Labrador during the winter months.

The Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers' union wants a one-temperature-fits-all policy implemented for closing schools in Labrador during the winter months. 

With this week's extreme temperatures across Labrador, a number of classes were cancelled. 

Currently, there are three different benchmarks to indicate when it's too cold for students to go to school. 

According to a school board policy guide, students in K-3 don't have to attend school when the temperature drops to -45. It's -50 for students in Grades 4-7; and -55 for Grades 8 to 12.

The older they get, there's an assumption that they're going to be dressed properly, they're going to make sure they're protected against the elements — but that's not always the case.- NLTA President Jim Dinn 

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District says the graduated temperature system takes into account the age and maturity of the students.

But NLTA President Jim Dinn says having one temperature for all grade levels makes more sense.

Dinn told CBC's Labrador Morning the union supports a blanket benchmark of -48 — with the wind chill — for school closures. 

He said the recommendation partially stems from feedback he's received from teachers.

"Especially those [teachers] in Labrador where extreme cold temperatures are more common. They're seeing the effect [it has] on their own students, there's concern for students who have to brave the weather — and they're trying to deliver curriculum to a classroom when most of the students have stayed home from the cold," said Dinn.

"It would be just as simple to set the low threshold for all students, since they all have to go out into that cold, and cold doesn't discriminate, I guess, whether you're young or old ... young or a teenager."

-45 also suggested

Dinn said that -45 was also a suggested temperature, which he hopes to discuss at an upcoming meeting with the school board.

They're trying to deliver curriculum to a classroom when most of the students have stayed home from the cold.- Jim Dinn

"We are open to it, and it's something that seems reasonable. You look at the varying age, maturity, physical abilities of students and the assumption that students are properly dressed for the condition as well," he said.

"I'm a parent myself. The older they get, there's an assumption that they're going to be dressed properly, they're going to make sure they're protected against the elements — but that's not always the case. It's better to err on the side of caution."

Dinn said he is hoping to bring forward these issues for discussion at an upcoming meeting with the school board.

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