Should spring break be two weeks or one week?
The perennial question is up for discussion yet again at the Chilliwack Board of Education’s regular meeting Tuesday evening.
As of now, the school calendar for 2020-2021 will include a two-week spring break yet again in a plan decided upon by arbitrator Elaine Doyle who reviewed submissions from the Board of Education and the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association (CTA), according to a staff report in the board’s March 10 meeting agenda package.
The annual debate about the spring break comes up every year, at least in part, because the number of instructional days changes and this year the two-week break pushes the daily instructional minutes above the collective bargaining agreement. This means a letter of understanding has to be signed by the Board and the CTA.
The proposed calendar to be approved by the board Tuesday calls for 15 teaching minutes per day over and above the collective bargaining agreement for elementary school, 10 minutes for middle school, and seven minutes for secondary.
In advance of the 2020-2021 calendar being prepared, the district held a survey. A total of 3,320 responses were received, 65 per cent of which (2,172) did not support the initial draft calendar that called for a one-week spring break and a reduction in elementary recess time from 15 minutes to 10.
Thirty-five per cent (1,148) supported the draft and the one-week spring break.
“The school district has more than 14,000 students so, presumably, the majority of parents did not complete the survey,” the staff report stated. “The Board will have to consider different options for collecting feedback for the 2021-2022 school calendar given the low participation rates.”
While the major reason cited for the two-week was to allow students and staff to rest and re-energize, and provide for family time including vacations, the one-week break is often favoured by lower income families and vulnerable students.
”Although a decision has been rendered by arbitrator Elaine Doyle, it is worthy to note that a school calendar that includes a two-week spring break has a profound impact on vulnerable families that require consistency and supports in their lives. This includes single parent families and low income parents having the ability to work during the second week of spring break, and the opportunity for vulnerable students to obtain much needed supports from their local school communities during the second week of spring break (e.g., access to food programs, academic and social/emotion supports and interventions, external agency supports working with schools, etc.).”
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