An image of 7 yellow school buses parking in the snow.

Inclement Weather Protocol

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. These decisions can have a significant impact on thousands of families across Toronto and are not taken lightly.

If Environment Canada forecasts poor weather conditions (including ice, significant snowfall, poor visibility, or extreme cold temperatures), the Toronto Student Transportation Group (TSTG), the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), and the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) teams will assess and monitor the situation overnight and into the early morning in order to determine any necessary bus cancellations.

This decision will be made by 6:00 AM.

If Buses are Cancelled and Schools are Open

Schools will remain open since approximately 83% of TCDSB students do not use a school bus. Families must make alternative arrangements to transport their children to school. Students who receive bus transportation receive updates regarding their transportation via TSTG.

It is important to note that when schools remain open on days with inclement weather, parents and guardians make the final decision on whether to send their children to school, and they can keep children home from school if they choose.

If Buses are Cancelled and Schools are Closed

The decision to close schools (which would include childcare centres and Extended Day Programs) will be determined by the TCDSB and TDSB by 6:00 AM, in order for families to make alternative arrangements. Updates will be posted on our website and our X (formerly Twitter) account.

To ensure the continuity of learning for students, teachers will prepare and post learning materials in their virtual classroom (Brightspace or Google Classroom). By logging into their online classrooms, students will have the opportunity to remain engaged in their learning asynchronously at home.

Air Quality Warnings

Hot and humid air can bring deteriorating air quality.

The risks in our schools are greater for young children, those with chronic illnesses and students and staff working or exercising outdoors.

Environment Canada’s Air Quality Health Index is a scale designed to help you understand what the air quality around you means to your health and provides ranges from 1 (low risk) to 10 (very high risk).

In the event of extreme heat or poor air quality, the TCDSB recommends the following based on criteria outlined by the Ministry, including:

  • In areas where the risk is identified as “Moderate 4 – 6”, or lower there is no need to modify usual outdoor activities for the general population unless individuals experience symptoms such as coughing and throat irritation.

  • In areas where the risk is identified as “High 7 – 10”, it is recommended to reduce or reschedule strenuous activities outdoors and keep children and staff indoors.

Schools are also reminded that using classroom HEPA Air Purifiers is helpful in further improving air quality indoors.

TCDSB regularly monitors the Air Quality Health Index and will consult with local public health partners and respond accordingly based on the conditions.

Heat Warnings

It is important to watch for the effects of heat illness (i.e., swelling, rash, cramps, fainting, heat exhaustion, heat stroke and the worsening of some health conditions).

When a Heat Warning is declared, TCDSB reminds staff and students of the following:

  • Bring a personal water bottle and stay hydrated.

  • Keep south-facing windows covered during the day.

  • Use fans, if available, throughout the school.

  • Natural ventilation (through operable windows) can be helpful for cooling and can be improved by using fans near open windows.

  • Turn computers off, if possible, or limit their use to the earliest hours of the school day.

  • Students and staff will rotate to cooler sections of the building including designated cooling areas, if available.

  • Schools will limit outdoor physical education activities.

Stay Informed

Staff will continue to closely monitor inclement weather impacts on TCDSB students, families, staff, and operations. Adjustments will be made if necessary.

Visit the following websites to stay up to date on cancellations or closures due to inclement weather:

Review the following guide by Environment Canada about wind chill and how to protect yourself from cold injuries: