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.
A school cancellation is a tough decision � and some families may disagree with HWDSB�s call. Families can always make the choice they feel is best when it comes to sending their child to school. Here are some guidelines to remember:
- When bad weather is expected, Hamilton-Wentworth Student Transportation Services (HWSTS) carriers check weather reports, road conditions and road clearing, starting as early as 4 a.m.
- School boards have varied policies on cancellations. The HWDSB Rule is: Severe weather + Bus cancellation = Schools and Administrative Buildings are closed. When HWDSB cancels busing due to inclement weather, we have deemed the roads unsafe and this triggers the closure of schools and administrative buildings.
- HWDSB will announce the cancellation of school and board operations by 6 a.m. Families will receive an email communication by this time if there is a closure.
You can also read our Inclement Weather and Board Cancellations Policy.
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 spot 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, it�s important that children come to school prepared for the cold. Students should wear boots, mittens/gloves and hats and it�s 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.
Hamilton Public Health Services monitors weather forecasts closely and notifies the media and community partners of a heat event.
- A Heat Warning is issued when there are two or more consecutive days forecast with daytime highs greater than or equal to 31C and nighttime lows greater than or equal to 20C or two or more consecutive days with a Humidex of 40C or greater.
- An Extended Heat Warning is issued when there are three or more consecutive days observed with daytime highs greater than or equal to 31C and nighttime lows greater than or equal to 20C or three or more consecutive days with a Humidex of 40C or greater.
- During Heat Warnings and Extended Heat Warnings, principals will monitor indoor temperatures in degrees Celsius with Humidex in all classrooms and learning spaces without cooling as measured by a board provided and installed device in each learning space.
- Beginning at the board-device reading of 40 degrees Celsius with Humidex in learning spaces, principals will follow HWDSB�s procedure related to Heat Alerts. If indoor temperatures with humidex increase beyond 45 degrees Celsius with Humidex, the principal will close the classroom to learning and move the class to another learning space. The Superintendent will inform the Director of Education who will decide whether to cancel in-person learning at the school.
- If a school or class closes to in-person learning, HWDSB will follow its school cancellation procedures and communicate with families using direct communication, email and phone, through its School Messenger service.
Once HWDSB has been notified of a heat event, information will be posted on our website and the following precautionary steps will be taken for students: Limit physical outdoor activities, ensure access to water, close drapes and blinds where possible, move students through cooler areas of the school and monitor students for symptoms of heat stress.
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.