EDITORIAL: Snow day closures anything but a “crisis”

I can finally agree with Education Minister Karen Casey on something when it comes to education—the closure of our schools when there is inclement wintry weather is not a crisis, as a so-called “expert” says.

In a bevy of media stories by Aly Thomson from The Canadian Press following school closures on March 28 due to the snow and icy roads that hit the area, Paul Bennett, director of Halifax-based Schoolhouse Consulting, has been quoted as saying that the number of days lost this year amounts to a crisis. It’s not even close to that, in my opinion.

“This is unusual. In fact, I dare to say no one else does it. No one does it with the frequency we do it. It’s bizarre,” said Bennett, an education analyst who has written numerous books and reports. “This is without a doubt the most serious crisis of lost school days that this province has ever faced.”

Casey issued a statement on the evening of March 28, one that I concur with. She said the final decision to cancel school rests with individual boards, but added that the situation is “far from a crisis.”

“While it is always preferable for students to be in school, we cannot control the weather,” said Casey. “Student safety is always the first priority.”

I’m not sure where Bennett gets his information and how his “expertise” that schools should be open when there is bad weather fits in the realm of keeping the children safe.

Now I don’t have kids but I think the school board decision makers have a bit more of a handle on things than Mr. Bennett does.

Bennett said in the CP story that Nova Scotia school boards are too cautious. Really, too cautious? Um, would you rather have school buses filled with kids go off the road because of the snow and icy road conditions, than be safe at home. There’s 195 school teaching days, 10 of which are built in for storm days given where we live.

Sure it got better on March 28 as the day went on, but when buses and cars would have been on the road at 7, 7:30 a.m., it was anything but pretty outside.

No matter the decision the school boards make, there’s always going to be people not happy.

However, for Mr. Bennett to call the number of snow days in N.S. a “crisis” is just a bunch of malarkey!

 – Pat Healey