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This article was published 7/2/2014 (959 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Close to 60 per cent of Manitoba's rural public schools have had at least one snow day this year -- and winter is a long way from over.
Hardest hit have been rural schools immediately north, south and east of Winnipeg.
There hasn't been a single snow day in the city, and it hasn't been anywhere near as bad in the north as in the south.
So far this year, the Department of Education reports, 293 schools have reported a total of 917 weather-related days on which they have been closed.
There have also been 33 schools closed for a total of 41 days for other reasons such as heating-system problems, fires or water-main breaks.
The worst hit have been schools in the Stonewall-area Interlake and the Morris-area Red River Valley. Schools reporting weather-related closures have been closed an average of five days each.
Right behind are Lord Selkirk Division schools at 4.9 days, and there has been an average of 4.5 lost days in Lakeshore School Division, whose schools are in towns along Highway 6.
Gimli-based Evergreen, Steinbach-area Hanover and Lorette-based Seine River divisions have all lost four days for each school that has been closed. The province does not report how many schools within a division have had snow days, nor does it name them.
There have been 3.7 days of no school in the Altona-area Border Land and 3.5 days in Portage la Prairie. Virtually no southern area has escaped.
Yet students in Flin Flon, The Pas, Swan River and Thompson have not had a single snow minute of lost classes this winter.
"It's certainly adding up," said Manitoba Teachers' Society president Paul Olson, but it's something teachers accept as inevitable in Manitoba's climate.
"You play catch-up as best you can. I don't know if it's a buffer built in, in the common-sense expectation that the weather will kick you in the butt several times a year," he said.
Teachers will return after snow days with "an amped-up version" of how they'd work with kids who've been off sick or away on some form of school trip, he said.
Even in the city, Olson cautioned, schools are open but often the buses don't run, so half the kids may be at home. Those snow days present an opportunity for students who need extra help, if they're among the ones who get to school.
Manitoba had a mild winter two years ago, when 95 schools reported a total of 89 snow days -- including a few early dismissals to get home before the roads became dangerous.
Last winter, there were 322 schools reporting 1,436.5 snow days.
To show just how fickle the weather can be, Sunrise School Division in the Oakbank and Beausejour regions averaged seven snow days a year ago, but so far, 20 schools have reported a total of 60 snow days this winter.