Quebec children get holiday as snow piles on roofs

Mon Mar 17, 2008 4:49pm EDT
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MONTREAL (Reuters) - Several dozen schools were expected to remain shut this week in the Canadian province of Quebec over fears their roofs may collapse under the weight of near record amounts of snow, officials said on Monday.

Administrators at Montreal's French-language school board said only 73 of the roughly 200 schools shut since Friday will reopen on Tuesday.

Some of the others may not open until after the four-day Easter weekend, which begins Friday.

"The objective, of course, is to open the maximum of schools but at the same time to proceed carefully because we want there to be zero risk," school board president Diane de Courcy told reporters.

All told, 90,000 students have been out of school in the Montreal area since Friday.

Primary and secondary schools and adult education centers will reopen only once their roofs have been cleared of snow and the buildings have been inspected for structural safety, de Courcy said.

Four people have been killed in the mainly French-speaking Canadian province of 7.6 million after roofs collapsed under the weight of accumulated snow, though none of the incidents involved schools.

In Shawinigan, about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northeast of Montreal, a 55-year-old man died on Saturday when the roof of his home collapsed.

Three women were killed in Morin Heights north of Montreal last Wednesday when part of a food warehouse roof caved in under the weight of snow.   Continued...

<p>A worker clears snow from in front of a building in downtown Montreal, December 3, 2007. REUTERS/Shaun Best</p>