It’s pretty much a given that, with Thursday’s forecast giving lots of snow and rain overnight and into Friday, many people were expecting schools would be cancelled, or at least delayed, on Friday.
When classes went ahead as scheduled Friday some people were not only surprised but alarmed. Road conditions were poor in many parts of the province at bus time, and there were reports of buses sliding off the travelled portion of side roads and getting stuck, and of some bus drivers pulling over to wait for conditions to improve.
Conditions did improve and by then most students were at their destinations and, fortunately, they made it there safely.
The general rule is to err on the side of caution when conditions are uncertain. School boards generally do that. Of course there have been days when parents have been left shaking their heads wondering why their children weren’t in school and frustrated over needing to find a sitter on short notice.
But deciding not to have classes on days when conditions turn out to be fine is what erring on the side of caution is all about. Parents are more understanding to that than they are to sending their children out in conditions that are concerning.
In Friday’s situation, the English Language School Board maintains conditions deteriorated after a determination was made that classes could go ahead on schedule. A heavy rain fell and washed away the protective layer that salters and sanders had put down.
Side roads and clay roads became skating patches and buses were already heading out onto them.
Fortunately, no one was injured and buses made it to their destinations safely, although some needed assistance.
The ELSB might have been operating on the best available information at the time. Had the rain not poured down shortly after 7 a.m. there might have been no issues. This could very well be a case of unfortunate circumstances.
While it’s true that parents have the right to keep their children home when they feel conditions are unsafe, it is also true that parents count on their school board getting it right. This time the board didn’t get it right and it is getting a royal raking for that. It would have been better if the school board had been able to reverse its decision on short notice. The board needs to come up with an action plan for such situations.