Two-week spring break still in next school calendar
Sarah Holland has one regret about the 2013-14 school calendar approved at Tuesday’s board meeting.
“It’s a pity,” says the chair of the District Parents Advisory Council, “that they had to approve this calendar before we got a chance to see how the two-week spring break works.”
Ministry changes to the regulations meant the calendar had to be submitted by March 31, and also had to reflect a new minimum number of hours of instruction.
“We were very interested in seeing how the two-week break works,” Holland says. “A majority of the parents who responded to a survey we did were supportive of it, but it’s something new. It’s not what people are used to.
“I was talking with someone recently who wasn’t even aware there was a two-week break this year.”
This year’s spring break runs from March 18 to 29, with students returning to school on April 1.
“Her reaction,” Holland says, “was, ‘This is an April Fools joke, right?’”
Holland was happy the board decided not to approve the 2014-15 calendar at the Tuesday meeting, even though its spring break is “set in stone”.
“A previous board decided the spring break should coincide with the (Canada Winter) Games, so there isn’t much we can do with that.”
She’s not opposed to the idea, noting it will give students a chance to participate in the Games. She also says the idea of the 2013-14 calendar being the same as the one used in most other districts has benefits.
“There are events, such as provincial hockey, that take place during spring break, so that will be helpful.”
Prince George and District Teachers Association president Matt Pearce says the major concern teachers have with the calendar is the timing of the break.
“There were some concerns raised about the two-week break coming in the middle of the second semester, and what effect it may have on students coming back to class after that much time off.”
Pearce says they worked with the district to mitigate some of the problem by placement of Pro-D days.
“We tried to put the majority of the Pro-D days in the first semester to avoid taking even more time away in the second semester. A lot of the scheduling, though, is based on when the provincial exams are. That basically is the end of the first semester, and we have to work with that.”
He also has concerns with how early the spring break will be in the 2014-15 year, running from mid-February to the beginning of March to match the Games, but says they have time to work around some of the potential problems.
“We want to see if there’s a way to break up that stretch from the beginning of March to June.”
He says the break during the Games works well on a number of fronts.
“I think Games organizers are hoping there will be teachers willing to volunteer during the Games, and it also gives senior students a chance to get in the community hours they need as a graduation requirement.”
The 2013-14 school year starts on Sept. 4, with the winter break from Dec. 23 to Jan. 3 and the spring break from March 17 to 28. The last day of the school year is June 26.