It’s -45 C. Welcome to Saskatchewan. For Regina Public Schools that means buses aren’t running, though schools remain open. Locals joke that the schools themselves don’t close because they’re buit “Saskatchewan tough.”
“Why don’t they just cancel school…(the) risk is too high to have to walk,” comments Sandy Smith on a Facebook news link that stated school buses wouldn’t be running but classes would still be on.
This is a question that many parents have.
“We do not close schools at RPS. The key reason is because kids will show up to a school whether it’s closed or not,” explains Terry Lazarou, Regina Public’s supervisor of communications- “We have communities in our city that will send their kids to school regardless; they don’t take buses they walk. If the school is physically closed it is a significant safety risk for the kids.”
Blair Gullickson, an overseeing principal for three Regina schools, stressed schools do what they can for those students who can’t be bused and reinforced Lazarou’s point that it would be more of a safety risk to students if they closed schools.
“I’ve been in situations where I’ve driven around the community and picked up kids who were walking a distance where I thought it was unsafe to do so. It’s difficult but you’ve got to weigh out what is most safe for the kids” said Gullickson.
Presently there isn’t any sort of program to transport students to school when buses stop running. School buses do not run when it’s too cold because they are not running all day and staying warm, whereas city buses can still operate because they are running all day. According to Regina Transit Operations Centre, it would be impossible for them to utilize city buses as an alternative for those children because they don’t have enough buses.
The effects of bus closure vary. Gullickson said it depends on what community you live in because the number of students who take the bus could be anywhere from 10 to 85 per cent.
Some may wonder if this is just a Saskatchewan policy or nationwide.
Chris Hagen, senior field officer with Winnipeg’s pupil transportation, said their school rules are similar to Saskatchewan’s. If the temperature reaches -45 C schools stop buses from running. If it reaches -80 C, then they look to closing all the schools within the division.
Though Winnipeg may have a temperature at which they will close schools, -80 C seems a nearly impossible-to-reach benchmark. Just as in Saskatchewan, Manitoba’s schools will remain open in -40 C weather.
Moving on from the Prairies, locations like Ottawa are more likely to stop busing if there has been heavy snowfall or freezing rain. According to the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, the city schools don’t have a max temperature like -40 C for cancelling buses simply because Ottawa doesn’t normally reach such frigid temperatures.
For those students who take the bus, it looks like you’ll have to bundle up and stay Saskatchewan tough.