The Chilliwack school board has approved a two-week spring break for 2022, albeit reluctantly.
The school district put out a survey to the public recently to once again gauge people’s preferences. The results overwhelmingly were in favour of a two-week break, however, the board continues to be concerned that the survey isn’t being taken by enough people.
There are more 14,000 students in the school district, and just 3,311 responses were received, including from staff, grandparents, students and community members.
Some board members are also concerned that students have already missed enough school time with all of the disruptions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Barry Neufeld was the sole opposing vote to the two-week break, citing his concerns for students missing school time.
Just four of the board’s six trustees were present for the vote, as Willow Reichelt and David Swankey recused themselves. Both have spouses in the local teachers’ union.
Both Heather Maahs and Darrell Furgason voted for the two-week break, but said they were doing so reluctantly. They also opposed last year’s vote, causing the issue to go to arbitration.
A one-week spring break is what is in the local collective agreement, but a letter of understanding (LOU) is signed each year to have a two-week break. That LOU has already been signed, which was true at last year’s vote as well.
When the board rejected the arbitration twice in early 2020, the Chilliwack Teachers Association to pass a motion of non-confidence in the school board.
“I know there is no point opposing a two week spring break,” Maahs said at the Jan. 12 meeting, because the issue would go to arbitration again. “So I will vote for the two-week break, but not happily.”
Jared Mumford voted in favour of the two-week break, and thanked the trustees who are against it for their input.
“School time is important but so is rest time,” he offered. He also suggested the response rate may be low because it’s not as important to some families.
Community members were the only group to vote for a one-week spring break, at 63 per cent, while every other category of respondent was largely in favour of two weeks.
Teachers voted the most strongly in favour of two weeks, at 98.93 per cent. CUPE employees voted in favour of that option at 90.3 per cent. Students voted 89.14 per cent in favour of the longer break, while 82.76 per cent of grandparents and 68.12 per cent of parents voted for the longer break.
That two-week break will run from March 21 to April 1.
School for the 2021/2022 calendar year begins on Sept. 7 and ends on June 23, with a total of 182 days in session, 175 of which are instructional.
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