News / Calgary

Snow day proves elusive for Calgary students

School board says parents get the final say in keeping kids home

School buses were rolling Thursday, despite the heavy dump of snow through Wednesday night.

ELIZABETH CAMERON / for metro

School buses were rolling Thursday, despite the heavy dump of snow through Wednesday night.

It’s been just shy of 20 years since Calgary public school students have had a snow day.

On Thursday morning, thousands of kids awoke hoping to hear those rare words, but they were mostly disappointed.

Aside from some private schools, public and Catholic schools in Calgary had their buses running and their doors open, despite 20-plus centimetres of snow in some areas, and a recommendation from the city for workers to stay home.

The last snow day was March 17, 1998, for those keeping track.

Megan Geyer, spokeswoman for the Calgary Board of Education, said the decision to keep schools open was made by the chief superintendent of schools, who consults with several other groups including the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

She said the last snow day was called after a wet, heavy snow blanketed the city.

“It’s not a measure of how much snow we need to get or how cold it needs to be – it’s a number of factors.”

She said if Calgary were to declare a city-wide state of emergency due to snow, that would automatically trigger a school closure.

While some parents took to Twitter to voice their concerns over the decision, the board of education stressed the ultimate decision to keep kids home remains with parents, and many did just that.

Greg Hart, co-founder of pedestrian advocacy group Vision Zero Calgary, said he had no worries about putting his daughter on the bus to school today, but that a pedestrian-oriented city would be much better suited for snowstorms.

“In pedestrian-oriented place, the distances are so much smaller between where you live and where your school is,” said Hart.

He said in northern Sweden, walking paths and cycle paths get top priority when it comes to snow clearing.

“If my kid needed to walk to school, it would’ve been very difficult for her today, for sure.”

Hart said making cities more resilient to snowfall will involve building better pedestrian infrastructure, and ensuring it’s kept clear of snow.

Snow was forecast to continue falling through Thursday night and into Friday, but Geyer said Calgary Board of Education schools will be open again Friday.

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