Should teachers be expected to drive to school if school buses are cancelled during inclement weather? Our readers weigh in.

school bus

I was listening to talk radio the other day. The topic of conversation that morning caught my attention. They were discussing whether or not teachers should make the drive into school if school buses are cancelled during inclement weather.

It got me thinking.

I was curious what our readers thought so we posted this question on both Canadian Living and Canadian Living Moms facebook pages.
“The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario says that if school buses are cancelled due to inclement winter weather, teachers shouldn’t be expected to drive in the poor conditions either, thus resulting in a full on ‘snow day’. What are your thoughts on this. Should this be the standard across the country?”

We received over 200 responses. Some were in agreement with this proposition while others were definitely not on board. It certainly made for an interesting and lively debate. I can’t post all the comments here but will share a relevant few with you.

YES responses
If buses are cancelled then schools should be closed. The safety of the other children, their parents, and all school staff should be considered. Schools aren’t supposed to be babysitters./Lynne Sheridan England

Teachers and students alike should not be out in a snow storm period/Cathy Walsh-parsons

I would say a cold weather day is very different than a snow day. Obviously a cold weather day everyone can drive safely but in Ontario we get as many or more snow days – those are the days ETFO is talking about, if the roads are not safe then schools should close, you are risking the lives of teachers, support staff, and the parents and kids who decide they will take their kids in. At our schools, the population drops to somewhere between 15 to 30 percent. That’s not an environment to continue on in./Mike Gauthier

I think where kids are concerned, there is a difference. Why do you demand the teacher to find their way in for no reason, putting more vehicles on the road unnecessarily and risking that teacher for the future classes if there is an accident that didn’t have to happen. Having said that, I don’t believe anyone should be forced to travel to work on a ‘snow day’, simply in safety alone. But if the kids aren’t going to be there, then why should the teachers. They should be able to use a sick day to cover lost time, (simply because they are there to use that way), and keep them home and safe./Suzanne Miller Wile

Of course! My children are bussed and I thought it was crazy when their bus was cancelled but school was open.If it is unsafe for the bus to run it should be unsafe for teachers and kids close to school…most of the time there are so few kids it ends up being a game day and no work is done anyway./Deanna Borg

NO responses
I think that driving a huge heavy, hard to maneuver bus full of jumpy kids not wearing seatbelts is a lot different than navigating a vehicle in a storm. Sets a ridiculous precedent and teachers are no different than the rest of the workforce./Jessica Boyes

I can see buses being cancelled, they certainly don’t maneuver well in snow. Regular people / parents still head to work, we don’t have the option. I say if teachers stay home ,no pay, just like the real world./Sheila Jamieson Bilodeau

Ridiculous. If roads are closed due to inclement weather then fine, close the school and no one goes. If not, school is open and I expect my children to not only attend, but be taught full lessons./Julie Taylor-Renaud

If teachers don’t have to work then I don’t want to go either. Let’s shut the entire province down from November to May, just in case it snows. Better to be safe./Karen Agler

If it is “too dangerous” for the teachers to drive to work then why isn’t it too dangerous for emergency workers? Teachers already make more money than nurses/police/fire/emt’s and have more paid holidays. Now they want paid snow days too?/Kay Lyn Evans

If buses are cancelled then its too unsafe for teachers to drive to school? Are you kidding me?! Most (not all) schools are primarily in walking distance for children. I have seen many days where buses are cancelled but completely fine to walk in. I can’t wait for parents to find last minute daycare arrangements or have to take an unpaid day off as there are no teachers at school. I will still be expected to get to work, as well as the people who serve you coffee every morning. Teachers are no more important then anyone else who need to get to work. If its truly unsafe then im hoping parents will use their own judgment and stay home with their kids as they are just as important on the roads./Amanda Maginnis Hanley

Neither Yes or NO, just a few insightful comments
Many times busses are not cancelled simply because it is unsafe to drive, but rather unsafe for thousands of children to be standing on the corners of slippery intersections or along dangerous snow covered county roads where cars and busses could slide into them. Also, busses are more difficult to control due to their size and weight, and requires more frequent stops. than the average car.
Many school boards have a policy that teachers are to report as long as it is reasonable to do so, and are tolerant (as in most jobs) when employees are unable to safely report to work. Each snow day should, and usually is, treated individually./Sandy Brieda

How sad that we live in a country where teacher bashing is so acceptable. Most teachers weren’t even aware this was being discussed but of course it becomes yet another opportunity to bash the profession. If you think we have it so easy in our job then why didn’t you make the same choice? Honestly, enough with the disrespect. Come do my job for a year and then by all means bash away if you still feel fit…but I highly doubt that would still be the case. As for this issue….I don’t really care if we have to go in or not as I live pretty close to my school. What you should understand though is that either way I would still work….believe it or not./Carrie Kayton

It’s a shame how this has turned into a teacher bash festival when the ETFO only has it’s union members best interests in mind. That being said, as an Ontario teacher I understand and support the reasoning behind cancelling school buses during inclement weather, but I also believe this shouldn’t result in a “snow day”. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion, I would only hope that people wouldn’t jump to conclusions and group all teachers together./Stephanie D’Aloisio

What about you. Are you in agreement with the The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario?

  • iamfred

    Yep… definitely support the teachers on this one. I feel that teachers should NOT have to work a snow day, just like the rest of us. Why should all the mechanics, carpenters, doctors, police, Wal-Mart employees, etc. get to stay home when it snows, but teachers be expected to show up for work? Don’t you think it’s enough that they have only one season off per year, and have so few days off for “development” compared to you and I? I think teachers should be given the same breaks as everyone else. Go teachers go!

  • Dave Jarvis

    Well said Fred!

  • Parent

    I think that if it’s a blizzard that shuts down the city/town that schools should be closed I also think just because buses are cancelled (obviously taking a bus on a snow cover road with kids in it is different then your own car) schools should still be opened. This used to happen frequently when I was a child as my mom being an EA would still have to go to school and we would as well but I also went to a school where k-6 were all walkers. My oldest went to school a few times when buses were not running but schools were opened and he got to learn still, but stores and companies don’t always shut down just because the school board has called a snow day.