Weather, power loss cause record school closures this year
Some students in Newfoundland and Labrador have missed as many as three and even four weeks of class time due to closures caused by harsh weather and power outages, says the province's main school board.
Darrin Pike, CEO of the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District, said a number of factors forced some students to miss considerable class time.
Pike said while there are some schools that match up with previous averages for school days missed due to winter weather, other schools have lost up to 20 days — the equivalent of four weeks — of classes.
When you've got schools that actually top 20 days in a year of closures due to weather, that's a tremendous amount of time- CEO Darrin Pike
"When you look at provincially, we're up considerably from our norm … when we're looking at the number of averages of 10 days, in some areas up to 13, up to 17, when you've got schools that actually top 20 days in a year of closures due to weather, that's a tremendous amount of time," said Pike.
According to Pike, exceptional weather conditions that started early in December and ceased to let up until March were the main cause of the majority of closures.
No plans to extend school year
Despite the high number of missed days at some schools, Pike said there are no plans to extend the school year to make up for lost time.
Pike said teachers are instead focusing their energies on core curriculum principles, and cancelling some extra-curricular items.
"We've postponed professional development in a lot of our schools and lost a lot of time. We've advised schools around co-curricular activities and any of those extra-curricular activities that may interfere on instructional time," said Pike.
"Even things like having guest speakers come into the schools — in the normal school year it's a good event, but we're really narrowing the focus on the essentials when you lose that much time."
Pike said the main focus is catching students up to ensure they go into the next grade with a solid grasp of main concepts.