British Columbia

Vancouver area students could get Olympic break

Students in Greater Vancouver may be given two weeks off during the 2010 Winter Games, say Olympic organizers, who have been holding talks with colleges and universities.

Students in Greater Vancouver may be given two weeks off during the 2010 Winter Games, say Olympic organizers, who havebeen holding talks with colleges and universities.

They hope the break will free up buses, athletic facilities and students willing to work or volunteer at the Games.

However, there's no word on whether elementary and secondary students would also get the time off andno discussions have taken place yet with school boards.

Spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade saidVancouver's Olympic organizing committeewants"to ensure that every child and youth has some opportunity to touch and feel the experience of the 2010 Winter Games."

Whistlerconsidering Olympic break

At least one school district is considering giving students that experience.

In Whistler, trustee Andree Janyk said the school board hasvoted to consider giving students an Olympic break.

"It's an event that comes to very few towns and villages in the world," she said. "It's something that can help students and children grow and learn from."

She said the the time could be made up by adding a week to the beginning and another to the end of theschool year.

Vancouver trustee opposed

In Vancouver, school trustee Sharon Gregson said giving children two weeks off for the Olympics is absurd.

"We have kids in East Vancouver who can't afford to go to the local swimming pool, or the ice skating rink," she said. "How the heck are they going to get to Whistler for the Olympic events?"

Vancouver school board chairman Ken Denike said the issue won't be discussed for some time.

'Excitement in schools,' says education minister

Education Minister Shirley Bond says while there have been no formal discussions at this point, the government and VANOC will be approaching school districts over the coming weeks.

"We certainly want students to have the benefit of all the opportunities they can around the Olympics.
There's excitement in schools today about that. It's a discussion item. Certainly no decisions have been made."

B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jinny Sims says the union won't support the idea until the government commits to providing tickets and transportation for all students in the province.

Sims also noted the same Liberal governmenthas declared education an essential service in its contract disputes with the BCTF.

"I cannot imagine this government, led by this premier who has brought in legislation after legislation to show that education is an essential service, condoning school closures for two weeks."