Board says no extension of school year for snow days – yet

The Upper Grand District School Board was inundated with a single question after Monday’s school cancellations across most of its districts.
Will the board be extending the school year to make up for all the lost time due to lousy weather.
The answer, so far, is an emphatic “No,” according to communications director Mag­gie McFadzen.
It has been a miserable win­ter for travel, and McFadzen can rhyme off a list of student days missed without a glance at the books. The statistics are growing, too:
– Dufferin County, 12 school days where no buses ran and Feb 1 and 11, where all schools were closed;
– Wellington County, eight days with no buses, and Feb. 1 and 11 with all schools closed.
She can also break down the missed school days by town­ship and area, too.
She also admitted that many people are asking, but said, “We are not consid­ering extending the school year.”
McFadzen added she has talked with colleagues at other boards who are facing the same question, and the answer is the same everywhere.
She explained that all professional development (PD) days will be running as sched­uled.
The only way the school board would change its mind would be by an order from the provincial government’s Ministry of Education.
“If the ministry directed us to do so – we would,” she said of the possibilities of holding classes on Saturdays, extending the school year at the end of June, or cutting into March break with classes.
McFadzen said the diffi­cul­ties of making changes are many, including dealing with union contracts for teachers, and problems of altering calen­dars that have to be approved by the ministry.
She added the ministry ordered school boards to observe Family Day on Feb. 18, so schools will be closed that day.
“PD days are covered in contracts,” she said.
“I’ve had a number of calls,” she added. “A num­ber of teachers are con­cern­ed” too, about the missed time.
When buses are cancelled, child­ren within walking dis­tance of the school are still expected to attend, but their regular classes are disrupted. McFadzen said if roads are closed, teachers cannot get through.
Parents also have to make sudden arrangements to place children in day care or with family and friends, and running a late morning bus when the weather clears would be a logistical nightmare, so the school board does not run one.
McFadzen said parents who are concerned about their child­ren’s grades should contact the school and teachers about how to make up missed time. She said teachers know the children the best, but so far, the board is “hoping to cover the curricu­lum expected.”
She noted though, the past week has raised havoc, and the board’s director of transportation has stated, “It’s been brutal.”
McFadzen said it is some­times easier for high school students, because they are old enough to stay home on their own, and can study on their own, too.
Meanwhile, “The teachers will be looking at ways they can keep students up to date.”