School District 27 trustees approved their controversial draft calendar for submission to the Ministry of Education, removing the fall break and keeping the spring break, despite mixed feedback from the public.
All trustees except Linda Martens voted in favour of the motion at the regular board meeting in Williams Lake Tuesday, March 31.
With all trustees except Mary Forbes attending the meeting by phone, trustee Alexis Forseille said she was glad to see the two-week spring break was moved back to its original timing as it will align better with the rest of the province.
With the fall break, Forseille said there were many things to consider.
“We have had this calendar in place for 14 years and I feel as though if it were working we would see several different outcomes than we currently see,” she said.
“I don’t believe the week off is fixing the problems that we are experiencing currently.”
Forseille said she doesn’t think the extra week off is helping with teacher recruitment and with how students cope with stress.
Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, Forseille’s sound was cut off on the feed and the rest of her comments were inaudible to those listening in.
Ciel Patenaude said she agreed with Forseille, noting they heard students’ argument that the fall break was good for everyone’s mental health.
“As a therapist, I agree with Alexis, that we cannot be reliant on breaks as means for supporting mental health.”
Rather, she added, students need to instead be working on coping strategies and other ways to deal with stress other than time off.
Patenaude said trustees have heard all the responses from the public feedback, however, hopes this change will be a positive direction in the long-term.
Trustee Martens reiterated she didn’t feel there was enough consultation with partners and stakeholders.
Trustee Willow MacDonald also said the calendar was an important subject they can’t put off, and that the decision was not taken lightly.
MacDonald said she hoped that they can change the perspective of a lot of the people who came forward and gave comments during consultation, though she didn’t state what exactly those comments were.
Much of the discussion surrounding removal of the fall break at previous board meetings, however, has been around the hardship and challenges the extra days off from school causes for vulnerable families in the community.
“I really hope we can build the heart of this district to be bigger and more encompassing of (everyone.)”