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Severe Weather

Regardless of the season, weather can have an impact on system-wide school board operations or individual schools, staff and students. Whether it’s cold and snow or extreme heat, the Toronto District School Board has a number of practices and policies in place to manage the impact of this weather on the school board. 

Snow/Cold Weather

From time to time it is necessary to cancel student transportation, classes and/or programs due to severe weather. On rare occasions, severe weather makes it necessary to close schools, administrative offices or sites. 

With approximately 245,000 students in our schools and sites each day, any decision to cancel buses, classes and/or programs or to close sites can have a significant impact on thousands of families across Toronto. This decision is not taken lightly. When schools remain open on days with inclement weather, parents/guardians make the final decision on whether to send their children to school and they can keep children home from school if they so choose. 

TDSB's Procedure for Severe Weather 


How does the TDSB make snow day decisions? 

A number of factors are considered on days where severe weather is (or could be) an issue. Very early in the morning, a team made up of the Director, Associate Directors, transportation, and communications staff look at various pieces of information including current and forecasted weather conditions and road conditions. Should a cancellation or closure be necessary, information will be posted on the TDSB website, TDSB social media and provided to local media by 6:00 a.m.

Why are TDSB schools often still open when buses aren’t running? 

The TDSB is unique when it comes to student transportation. Unlike other schools boards across the Greater Toronto Area, a vast majority of TDSB students — approximately 90 percent — do not use school buses. That means, if school buses are cancelled, it is still possible for students to get to school by walking or other means. However, if schools are closed, 245,000 students would not be able to go to school and thousands of parents are left to make childcare arrangements at a moment’s notice — something we know will not be possible in every case.

How are daycare centres affected by weather decisions?

The TDSB communicates any decision to close schools to daycare operators, which are independent from the school board. With that in mind, any cancellations or closures of daycares will be communicated to parents by the daycare and not the school board. Any questions surrounding daycares should be directed to the daycare operator.

How are decisions made for school recess being inside or out? 

From time to time, it is necessary to hold indoor recess or a shortened recess due to inclement weather (rain, extreme cold or heat, severe icy conditions). This decision is typically made at the school-level depending on local conditions which can vary widely across the city; however in some cases, a board-wide directive may be issued.

How can school activities be affected by weather?

School activities including sport practices/games and rehearsals may also be cancelled due to severe weather. These decisions are typically made on a school-by-school basis; however in cases where board-wide activities and programs, such as Continuing Education classes, are cancelled, this will be communicated on the TDSB website and social media.


Hot Weather

At times during the year, Toronto experiences days of extreme heat that can prompt Environment Canada to issue Heat Advisories. These temperatures can and do have an impact on students and staff.

Do TDSB schools have air conditioning? 

Out of the TDSB’s 584 schools, approximately 125 are fully air conditioned. Some are partially air conditioned, while others have no air conditioning. 

How do schools without air conditioning manage the heat?

During warmer temperatures, there are a number of actions that schools and staff can take to manage the heat and keep schools, classrooms and students as comfortable as possible, including:

• Using fans to provide air movement, where possible.
• Keeping lights and computers turned off, where possible.
• Keeping doors and windows open.
• Rotating staff and students into cooler/air conditioned areas within the school, where available.
• Reducing strenuous activities, including gym and sports activities.

Students with a particular susceptibility to heat or medical concerns should speak with staff, who will do their best to accommodate.

Why can’t all schools have air conditioning? 

The cost to install complete building air conditioning at all schools that don’t currently have it would reach into the hundreds of millions of dollars – not to mention the added maintenance, replacement and operational costs. As a result, the installation of full building air conditioning at all remaining schools is not financially possible. 

The TDSB is in the process of creating cooling stations at schools without full building air conditioning. This plan would cool large areas such as gyms or libraries so that students and staff would have access to a cooler area on days of extreme heat. Given the number of schools involved, the plan is expected to take approximately 5 to 7 years to fully implement. Cooling stations have already been installed at 12 elementary schools, with a plan to install cooling stations at approximately 70 schools per year until complete – starting with elementary schools. 

Why don’t TDSB schools close during extreme heat? 

This decision would put thousands of parents across Toronto in a challenging position of having to find childcare with very short notice — something we know will not be possible in every case. It’s with that in mind that the TDSB and other school boards across Ontario do not typically close schools due to heat.

How are decisions made for school recess being inside or out? 

From time to time, it is necessary to hold indoor recess or a shortened recess due to inclement weather (rain, extreme cold or heat, severe icy conditions). This decision is typically made at the school-level depending on local conditions which can vary widely across the city; however in some cases, a board-wide directive may be issued.

How can school activities be affected by weather?

Outdoor school activities such as sports practices/games may be cancelled due to severe weather. These decisions are typically made on a school-by-school basis; however in cases where board-wide activities and programs are cancelled, this will be communicated on the TDSB website and social media.

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