While many school districts across Vancouver closed for a snow day Wednesday morning, two major public school districts in the Greater Victoria region remained open.
Just before 6:30 a.m., the Sooke School District (SD62) announced schools were open, but buses had been cancelled for the day.
Story continues below
Buses are cancelled, but schools are open in SD62 (Jan 17). It is up to the parent/guardian to decide if they feel comfortable sending their child to school. We support and respect your decision.
— Sooke School District (@SD62_Sooke) January 17, 2024
The Greater Victoria School District (SD61) made the call to keep all schools open and buses running.
“Thirdwave buses are running with altered service, parents will be notified if their child’s route is altered,” the district posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
INCLEMENT WEATHER UPDATE JAN 17:
All schools within the Greater Victoria School District remain OPEN today. All district buses are running. Thirdwave buses are running with altered service (parents will be notified if their child's route is altered). pic.twitter.com/YaBbFkQH6I
— Greater Victoria SD (@sd61schools) January 17, 2024
Victoria parent Jono McGee told CHEK News he had packed up his kids into the car for school, but ended up turning around to spend the day at home.
“The roads were a little dicey, and then it really started to come down, so I pulled over and called both schools,” McGee said. “By the time we went back, it was hammering down.”
Vic High student Hannah Booth said her drive to school was icy.
“My dad was driving me just up this hill and he was like whoa the roads are really slippery, I can’t believe you are still going to school,” Booth said.
The decision by both school districts to keep classrooms open was met with negative reactions online, with some saying it was dangerous to not close for a snow day.
One parent told CHEK News he would have made it one if he had the choice.
SD62 did not respond to a request for comment.
SD61 said in a statement its inclement weather protocols involve many staff members assessing the road conditions between 4 a.m. and 6 a.m., making a decision based on safety.
“This includes road conditions, sidewalk conditions, and ability of our buses to safely transport students,” the statement reads.
The district said it makes a decision shortly after 6 a.m. to keep schools open or closed and announces the decision by 6:30 a.m. to give families time to adjust their schedules.
“This morning, when the decision was made to keep schools open, roads throughout the Greater Victoria School District were safe and passable. Many areas had very little snow, and in some places, it had started to rain,” the SD61 statement said.
“As you can imagine, opening or closing schools is a significant decision that impacts all students and staff and we do not make these decisions without a great deal of thought and considerations for all.”
Saanich Schools (SD63) did cancel classes for the day.
Dave Eberwein, SD63 superintendent, said the decision was made because the region received a significant amount of snow overnight, and the extended forecast showed more snow on the way throughout Wednesday morning.
“Not every school district is going to have the same weather patterns, and one of the things that happens on the South Island here is we really have micro-climates that exist, and sometimes the snow hits one more than the other,” Eberwein explained.
The University of Victoria, Camosun College and Royal Roads University all closed their campuses in the afternoon due to the changing weather conditions.
All schools are expected to be open Thursday. Parents are reminded to check their district websites in the morning for any updates.