Principals are often asked how we decide whether it’s too cold to allow our students out in the schoolyard for recess.
Fresh air and exercise are important for children. It keeps them physically fit, and helps them stay alert all through the school day. Parents can help by making sure their children come to school prepared to spend time outdoors. Hats, mitts, boots and a warm jacket are important to keep students comfortable during lunch and recess.
But extreme cold can be dangerous, and parents want to know that their children will be safe. When the temperature is predicted to drop below -15C, the City of Toronto may declare a cold weather alert. Schools are very sensitive to the needs of our students and pay close attention to the weather, especially when the windchill is below -20 C.
The TDSB Severe Weather Protocol is flexible, so that every principal can make a decision that meets the needs of his or her school. It sets guidelines for when to allow students outside for recess, when to make outdoor breaks shorter, and when to keep students inside altogether.
Canadian winters can be wonderful but when the weather is cold, school staff keep one eye on the thermometer and the other on the needs of our students – a perfect balance of fun and safety.