This week, which was kicked off the newest holiday, Family Day, is also a week off school, listed simply as the “February break” on most school calendars — but this may be one of the last times parents will see this empty week in February, because of government-mandated changes to school instruction.
First, they mandated that the school year not start until after Labour Day; this was accepted by most jurisdictions, but it played havoc with some schools in Weyburn as they have to have an altered school year due to major school construction at the Comp.
The altered calendar has 187 days (as opposed to 197 on most calendars), with different length school days and periods to accommodate the need for instructional hours, but due to the later start, this pushed graduation day into the first week of June.
Now, a new added wrinkle to the picture is the government is now mandating that all school divisions provide 950 hours of instruction, which is an increase of 40 hours for some school divisions. This was in response to the provincial auditor’s report, which noted there is not a uniform number of hours for school divisions in the province, with some widely-varying numbers of hours — thus the recommendation for 950 hours in a school year. Some jurisdictions, along with the Sask. Teachers Federation, are asking to have this requirement delayed to the 2014-15 school year to allow school divisions to make the transition.
Meantime, families got a holiday to enjoy some time off in between the period from New Year’s to Easter (formerly there had been no break there in the first three months of the year). Now, it seems like we’re just fresh off Christmas and New Year’s and we’re now in the midst of a week off, and scarcely a month from now there will be another week off for Easter.
The latter week off makes sense, but it’s questionable whether having a February break makes sense. If school divisions are supposed to make up the new mandated 950 hours of instruction, wouldn’t it be less crowded and rushed if there were no February break, but just the Easter one? We would still have Family Day to provide for that valuable time off in mid-winter, but is the entire week off really necessary?
The bottom line is, our children need a basic standard length of time in the classroom to learn and be educated; maybe a little common sense should be mixed in when planning the school year.