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Severe Weather

Inclement Weather Cancellations

During severe winter weather, the difficult decision to remain open or to close is always made with the safety and security of our students and staff in mind. Here are some guidelines to remember:

Snow Clearing

Snow-clearing at HWDSB schools is a responsibility shared by Board staff, contractors and the City of Hamilton.

  • HWDSB staff clear, salt and/or sand walkways from the city sidewalk to the school, school and portable steps, walkways to portables, ramps to schools and portables, areas outside entrances and fire exit doors, fire exit stairs and ramps.
  • HWDSB contractors after 5+ cm of snow will plow parking lots and sidewalks when HWDSB Facilities staff deem it necessary, salt and sand the parking lot before school starts, and if required, Head Caretakers may also salt or sand parts of the parking lot.
  • The City of Hamilton is responsible for clearing snow and ice from sidewalks directly in front of schools, a top priority for the City. Note that it may take up to 24 hours after a snowfall for sidewalks to be cleared. Report a sidewalk fronting a school in need of clearing at 905-546-CITY (2489).

Contractors will plow or clear up to half of the asphalt play area at schools. Head Caretakers also inspect playgrounds and sand and/or salt areas made slippery by changing temperatures.

Students should take extra caution when walking or playing on school property that may be slippery. Principals concerned about weather or playground conditions may hold indoor recesses and lunch/nutrition breaks.

See our Snow clearing infographic.

Cold Weather at School

Time spent outdoors is an integral part of the school day. There are great benefits when children experience fresh air, exercise and time spent time outside. Outdoor play is also a break from the structure of the classroom.

Depending on the season, preparing for outdoor play in Canada can mean anything from applying sunscreen to wear mittens and a hat. During winter, its important that children come to school prepared for the cold. Students should wear boots, mittens/gloves and hats and its a good idea to pack extra mittens, socks, etc. in case they are needed.

Principals decide whether to send students outside for recess. HWDSB asks Principals to follow the City of Hamilton guideline that people stay inside when it’s at or below -15C, or -20C with the wind chill.

Learn more about Cold Alerts and Community Response.

Heat Events

A heat event occurs when the weather calls for one day with a 40C or higher humidex reading. The City of Hamilton monitors weather forecasts closely and provides a warning to the media and their community partners.

Once HWDSB has been notified of a heat event, the following precautionary steps will be taken for students and staff:

  • Limit physical outdoor activities
  • Ensure access to water
  • Close drapes and blinds
  • Move pupils through cooler areas of the school

Learn more about Climate Change and Health.

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