Freezing rain made decision to close schools an obvious one

Several hours of freezing rain overnight led school board administrators to take the unprecedented step of shutting just about all Montreal-area elementary and high schools for for a day Monday — in the middle of April.

"We've made calls [to CJAD 800 to cancel school] in January, February, March, but never in the middle of April," says English Montreal School Board spokesperson Michael Cohen, "but it's dangerous out there, it's dangerous for the buses to go on the roads. It's dangerous for kids to step outside and walk on the sidewalk. The parents are in unanimous agreement. We made the right decision."

Representatives from the boards were up bright and early at 5 a.m. on Monday for a conference call — and quickly decided to cancel classes for the day because of the weather conditions.

Cohen says most of the major private schools on the island tend to take their cues from the public boards in deciding on a weather-related closure — and many of them did close on Monday.

CEGEPs and universities, however, rarely ever close because of weather, and all of them were open for business on Monday — though they advised students and staff on social media to check whether their individual classes would go ahead, in case their teachers and lecturers weren't able to make it in, for one reason or another.

Donna Varrica, spokesperson at Dawson College, says the reason there are so few weather-related closures beyond high school is a simple one.

"It's based on the assumption that most, if not all of our populations are over 18, which makes [the students] adults," Varrica said. "We assume they will make decisions based on...their own safety and their own education."