Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Bitter cold forces kids indoors

Students kept busy inside amid deep-freeze

  • Print
Grade 3 students from Greenway School do yoga and other activities during indoor recess when frigid weather keeps them inside.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Grade 3 students from Greenway School do yoga and other activities during indoor recess when frigid weather keeps them inside. Photo Store

When the recess bells rang at schools across the city Wednesday, almost no one was allowed out.

Such is the cold reality of the polar vortex that has made indoor recesses a regular event this winter, an occurrence that is frustrating to both students and teachers.

It's safety first, superintendent Duane Brothers of Louis Riel School Division said.

"When it's this cold outside, typically -27, outdoor recess is cancelled and the students are kept indoors," Brothers said. "There's been a lot of indoor recess over the last few days. The gyms are open, we pull out board games."

Brothers said division superintendents and school principals monitor the weather reports almost constantly, starting daily at 6 a.m. "If it's -45 (with wind chill) at 6 a.m., the school buses don't run."

In Winnipeg, the city's nine school divisions are organized into a phone tree with one superintendent (Brothers) in charge of the weather. He's the one who gets word out to the media the buses aren't running.

"Different school divisions in Manitoba will have different policies that relate to the temperatures and the wind chill," said Paul Olson, president of the 15,000 public school teachers in the Manitoba Teachers Society.

Most city divisions cancel outdoor recess when the temperatures drop below -25 C, especially if it's windy. It was -27 C at 10 a.m. Wednesday with a wind chill of -38. It "warmed" to -24 C at 3 p.m. but the wind chill was -29.

"Here's the bottom line: We want our students safe and we know the wind chill and the bitter cold can cause concern so we work hard to keep our students safe and indoors," said Olga Wyshnowsky, student services co-ordinator for the city's largest school division, the Winnipeg School Division.

Temperatures have been hovering around -30 C almost every day since the beginning of December. So it's no surprise to see schools mix it up, a lot, at recess these days.

"Especially in our elementary schools, where the kids are young, they need a little break time," said Jason Young, superintendent at the Beautiful Plains School Division.

At Hazel M. Kellington Elementary School in Neepawa, a couple of grades were in the gym at recess on Wednesday. A couple of other grades were down the hall in art class, with paints and paper. And another group was watching a short movie in the library.

That's been routine since early December and two months into the cold stretch, planned indoor recess is stretching a little thin.

"The longer the stretch, the more we have to vary the activities because it gets a little tiring for the kids, and the teachers as well," Young said.

Elizabeth Langtry, a teacher for 25 years, said it's tough for the students to be stuck inside at recess when they'd rather be running around outside.

"It has been challenging because children need to be active and when they get outside, they have a chance to get all that energy out and it makes a huge difference in their learning. When they have too many indoor recesses it can be challenging," said Langtry, who teaches a Grade 3 class at Greenway School in Winnipeg. "When children are more active, their brains are more active."

Activities at Greenway School during indoor recess have included yoga, doing exercises and stretches in the hallway as well as some free-choice time in the classroom.

"They do love their choice time but we try to give them a variety of activities to do in the classroom. Sometimes we do some exercising by walking around the hallways and do that for 15 minutes to vary it for students," Langtry said.

"We've put up letters of the alphabet (in the hallways) and when they get to that letter of the alphabet, they can do the exercise that the station asks them to do. We've gotten feedback from our gym teacher for different ideas and we also do yoga here and Fit Kids (instructional fitness DVD for kids)."

Langtry said "Brain Gym" has been particularly popular.

"When our children don't have any kind of active (physical) type of activity, when they've sat too long, we do Brain Gym to stimulate the brain," she said. "Each part of the exercise stimulates parts of the brain."

Brain Gym, developed in California by the Educational Kinesiology Foundation, is a program of 26 simple physical skills that have been associated with learning and achievement.

"Teachers come up with activities that are entertaining and even adults need a break. In the school where I taught, the principal would stand in the hallway and trade hockey cards. He would just make a point of it and it gave everyone a break. That was really impressive," Olson recalled.

At the Lakeshore School Division in the western Interlake region, superintendent Janet Martell said it's just as important to recognize the role the outdoors plays in keeping kids healthy.

"We recognize the importance of kids being outside but at the same time we monitor their safety," she said. "If it's -42 C they might not get out. Then it's indoor activities. It could be in the gym, reading books in the library or using technology -- iPads, computers, laptops that have apps related to class work."

 

-- with files from Ashley Prest

shane.minkin@freepress.mb.ca alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 23, 2014 A5

History

Updated on Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:45 AM CST: Replaces photo

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Doug Speirs trains for role in Nutcracker

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A Canada goose makes takes flight on Wilkes Ave Friday afternoon- See Bryksa’s 30 Day goose a day challenge- Day 09- May 11, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald has entered the NDP leadership race, do you believe the "gang of five" rebel ministers were right to publicly criticize Premier Greg Selinger's leadership?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google