Now that our first burst of winter weather is here there are some people wondering what criteria is used to determine when students go out for outdoor play or break.

It is an expectation of the Waterloo Region District School Board that principals be sensitive to the safety and well-being of students during periods of severe weather conditions. Two considerations must be balanced to best meet the needs of students:

There is a need to ensure the safety and well-being of students. During severe weather conditions, the safety of students must be the primary concern of principals. Principals will make the decision to keep students inside when the conditions warrant such action. Recess provides a necessary break for students where physical activity and socialization refresh students and help them to be more successful in the learning activities that follow a recess break. Principals will allow outdoor recess whenever possible. The decision to keep students in during recess/lunch hour is to be made by the principal or designate of each school. The Board is confident that principals will use sound judgement when making these decisions.

The decision will be made using the following data:

The specifics of the local situation. Some Schools have protected areas where weather conditions are mitigated; others are very exposed. Local weather reports. Both temperature and wind conditions must be considered. In general, when the “wind chill” factor is approximately -20º C, the principal should ensure that local mitigating circumstances make it safe to send students outside.  At Jean Steckle our play area is well protected from the prevailing westerly wind which knifes down Seabrook Drive.  The physical school building itself acts as a barrier to this wind which cuts the windchill significantly thus ensuring more opportunity for our students to go outside and play when it is close to that point.

Following are some excellent sources:

• University of Waterloo weather website:

• Environment Canada weather website:

We try to get out students outdoors as much as possible here at Jean Steckle to allow them to experience healthy active living and learning environments all year around.  Dressing your students warm ensures this is always safely possible.  Feel free to contact the school if you have questions regarding this procedure.

Here is the link for the Student Transportation Services of Waterloo Region as well.