Taking the Bus

Captain Jelly Belly is in Grade 9 this year, and with that came the School Bus. This is the first time we’ve had a kid be a Bus Kid.

It’s been kind of a weird thing for us, because 99% of the kids from his old school – the one the girls still go to – don’t qualify for busing. They all walk. We somehow, magically, managed to qualify by the skin of our teeth – our street is the very first one on the outer boundary, and we think actually it’s probably meant to be INSIDE the boundary, but we will not be asking any questions, no siree.

This week was our first experience with bus cancellation – they were cancelled yesterday due to freezing rain and ice on the ground. This happens a handful of times each winter here in Ottawa but we weren’t sure what we were supposed to do with the Captain in these circumstances.

He said – no surprise here – that the teachers warned the kids that when buses were cancelled, they should stay away. Like, ALL kids should stay away – they should consider this a snow day, even though the school was still open, and just forget about attending classes.

But considering almost all his friends and the kids of practically everyone we know are walkers, and would be unaffected by bus cancellation, that did not seem right.

So we had him text literally every kid he knows that has a phone, and eventually two other kids texted back and said that indeed, they were not going to bother going to school. A couple more texted at like, noon, to confirm that a) they were just getting up and b) they didn’t go to school, like TEENAGERS, am I right?

Anyway, we did decide to let him stay home and he had the Best! Day! Ever! playing Mario Kart all day long. I think he’s totally on board with the concept of bus cancellations.

But I still wonder – was everyone else at school? Did we keep him home for no good reason? I mean, he COULD walk, kids literally one street over are walkers. Or I could even have dropped him off and picked him up.

But maybe school was like a wild west ghost town, with tumbleweeds rolling through the halls, and the handful of kids who showed up just watched movies all day.

If only I could be a fly on the high school wall. Bus rider advice welcome!

10 thoughts on “Taking the Bus

  1. Here’s the thing. I remember well when I was in early high school how difficult it was to walk to the bus stop or to school in the rain, or cold, or sleet or massive snowfall. But it was just expected that we would go. It kind of prepared us for the future.

    Would your employer say ‘hey, it’s freezing rain out, don’t bother coming in’? I never entertained the idea that it was optional to attend something, whether it was school or work. When I was a flight attendant, the weather didn’t impact my arrival time at the airport, even if there was going to be a delay in departure due to weather. I still had to get up, and get to work on time, regardless the weather circumstances.

    We make our kids go if the schools stay open. Back when the buses were canceled, we’d make them walk or drive or car-pool, now that they’re on public transit there is no legitimate reason for them to ‘skip’. Sometimes we coddle them and drive them so they won’t arrive at school all wet and frustrated, which is probably a disservice. I mean, we own umbrellas and rain paints…but…we still do it.

    So I don’t know. It’s a catch-22.

  2. When the kids were in primary school, they walked but the school was largely bussed due to the French Immersion program. We made our kids go to school every day they were healthy, regardless of the weather or bus situation. The only times that they didn’t is if the school was closed, or closed early due to bad weather or a problem inside the school (bust water pipe or things like that…). Once they hit middle school, we stopped caring, mostly because the kids could stay at home on their own, get their own food, etc. One time we made our oldest kid attend school on a day that busses were cancelled (can’t remember if it was grade 7 or 8) and he said he was one of two kids there, so after that we stopped caring or forcing the issue. We do care deeply about education, but there is no education happening on those days so…. Whatever. There are bigger things to worry about in the world and raising kids….

  3. I think this is very school dependent. Full disclosure – I think if the schools are open the kids should go, and I ESPECIALLY think it’s wrong for teachers to say they shouldn’t come. Having said that, our kids first went to a school that was 90 per cent bussed and on snow days they would have four or five kids in their class – not very conducive to learning. Now they both go to schools that are 90 per cent walkers and snow days are nothing at all. We don’t even think about them. It will be a full school day, they will learn, it’s all good. So, I think, perhaps, we should maybe be thinking harder about having our kids attend schools they can walk to? I get that in rural, or even some suburban settings that can be hard, but in the core of the city there are schools where 90 per cent of the kids are bussing in … which means not only are snow days lost, but also they can’t walk home for lunch, they don’t have friends in walking / biking distance on the weekends, etc. Good things happen when kids can walk or wheel to their school!!!

  4. bibliomama2

    It’s not a huge surprise that I’m on the more lenient side, I suppose. We’ve always had the option of driving our kids in if the buses were cancelled, and we take it on a case-by-case basis. They usually wanted to go in the younger grades, because even if a lot of kids didn’t show up, it was fun to hang out doing non-learning stuff. In high school I let them decide, because neither of them is really a slacker – they would go if something important was going to happen, but if their friends were staying home they might decide to do that (Angus is in grade twelve now, so he gets himself in no matter what). I respect the argument that someday you’ll have to get to work no matter the weather, but I don’t really agree with it. They don’t get paid to go to school – it’s their ‘work’, but it’s not their ‘job’. And, in fact, some days my husband DOES choose to work from home if the weather is really bad – not everyone gets that privilege, I realize, but there it is. The only reason schools stay open when the buses are cancelled is for funding reasons, and I don’t really agree with it – if the roads are really bad, non-essential services staff should be off of them.

    1. This is true what you say, I think, in terms of having more flexibility today to skip a day of work by working from home. After all, telecommuting is on the rise and many people (including me) have found to be more productive at home than in the workplace. Not to mention the long, time-wasting of commutes, which increase if the weather is bad and decrease productivity, most likely.

      I just meant that today, compared to my school years (middle school and high school) we tend to be much more lax in things like attendance these days. It’s probably easier to stay caught up with the internet today, but I still don’t think it’s bad practice to experience some discomforts. And I hate that kids watch movies at school all day due to poor attendance…sheesh. If I knew this ahead of time I would probably not send them either.

      What about the teachers who are expected to arrive and then only have two students? If I was a teacher in that scenario I would probably be somewhat unhappy. I couldn’t teach just two students and to show up to plug them into a movie seems counter-productive to the whole ‘show up to school no matter what’.

      Tricky, isn’t it. 🙂

      1. It is! I do worry that I coddle my kids too much – it’s partly a function of the fact that I haven’t worked full time since they’ve been born, so it’s a fact that sometimes I’m just less busy than they are, so I do the laundry and the cooking etc. It’s probably true overall that we’re more lax about attendance today, although when i went to school we had actual snow days where they just closed the schools, and my parents took me out of school often for vacations. I hate that they will cancel the buses but not close the schools, because not only would it suck to show up to teach and not have anyone to teach, but I know of teachers who have gotten into car accidents trying to get to school on those days. There’s no one perfect answer. It’s all nuanced. Stupid nuance. 🙂

    2. Carly

      Just chiming in quickly to say that on days when the weather is bad and buses are cancelled, school staff can choose to report to the school within the same Board that is closest to their home, as long as they advise their principal. Those who would typically travel across town are not required to do so in cases of extreme weather.

  5. MrsCarlSagan

    When my kids took the yellow bus and it was cancelled, they stayed home. When they walked to the school down the street, they went to school. Now the older two take OC Transpo and they went yesterday as the roads and traffic really weren’t all that bad. W in grade 9 said there were lots of students in his classes and they did work like a regular day. C in grade 8 said there were very few and they didn’t do much. If there was a raging snowstorm and the forecast was worsening throughout the day, I would have let my OC Transpo riders stay home, but that wasn’t the case yesterday.

  6. Shannon

    We live in a rural area and most of the school population is bussed in. So the high school is a virtual ghost town on snow days.

    When my kids went to school in town and walked they went on snow days. But again because most kids were bussed there were very few kids there. Most times the kids all hung out in 1 room for the day. No actual teaching was done.

    My son has had 3 snow days this week. A new record. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s the last one until at least the end of the semester. I’m really hoping it’s the last one for this school year, not likely but I suppose it could happen.

  7. smothermother

    Poor Max. His dad is a teacher (so missing school for anything other than terrible sickness is not acceptable) and we live in the inner city so school is on the way to work, which means he has always been to school on snow days. And chances are he will be going to the school his dad works at for his 7-8, so he’ll be going on snow days for those years too. Poor guy. We’ll see what happens in high school which will be further out and he will be dependent on city buses probably.

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