School calendar gets green light

School calendar gets green light

North Okanagan-Shuswap trustee raises some concerns about days off

The next school year is written in stone, but it includes some words of caution.

The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District approved the 2017/18 calendar Tuesday, and it includes five days off in a row for students around Remembrance Day.

“We need to be really careful that we always remember why there is Remembrance Day. It’s not another mini spring break,” said Mike McKay, official trustee, as he approved the staff recommendation.

Nov. 9 will be a school organized non-instructional day while schools are closed Nov. 10. That is then followed by Nov. 11, a Saturday, Nov. 12, a Sunday, and then Nov. 13, which will be used to observe Remembrance Day.

There will be no classes Nov. 10 because the district typically close schools for five extra days at spring break. But this coming year, the Easter statutory holidays fall at the end of spring break so that would mean school wouldn’t resume until a Wednesday if the district stuck to five days.

It was suggested by a parent giving feedback on the draft calendar that the fifth day would be better moved to November and be tied in with the Remembrance Day stat.

The calendar committee agreed with that idea and it also helps balance the days between first and second semester.

While understanding the recommendation, McKay continues to express reservations.

“We need to raise a sensitivity towards that (Remembrance) day and the further we push assemblies away from the day, the meaning is lost,” he said.

Spring break will go from March 19 to April 3, including Easter.

However, McKay points out that the second week is actually a period for school closures related to finances.

“There’s an impact for people who struggle around child care. We need to be sensitive around that,” he said. “There are parents working two jobs, they don’t have extended family and they can’t afford high-priced options.”

McKay has instructed staff to work with local municipalities to try and pursue activities for students during the break.

The other major change in the 2017/18 calendar is the starting point for kindergarten/new student registration will shift from the originally proposed April 4 to Oct.2.

“There needs to be a lot of communication with that,” said McKay.

The calendar includes 181 days of instruction, as well as seven non-instructional days, five professional development days, one administrative day and one ministry designated day.