New Brunswick

Schools weigh loss of classroom time to mounting snow days

Students in parts of New Brunswick woke up to their ninth snow day of the season on Monday, as a blizzard walloped much of the province.

As many N.B. students take a 9th snow day, superintendent says professional development days may be cancelled

Snow days are quickly adding up for some students in New Brunswick. The Anglophone East School District superintendent says schools are now making adjustments to make up for lost classroom time. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

Students in parts of New Brunswick woke up to their ninth snow day of the season on Monday, as a blizzard walloped much of the province.

Gregg Ingersoll, superintendent of the Anglophone East School District, told Information Morning Moncton he is concerned the number of days of missed school are accumulating as quickly as the snow.

Anytime it gets up over five or six days over the course of a whole school year you start to get concerned.- Gregg Ingersoll, Anglophone East superintendent 

"We were doing pretty good until a couple of weeks ago, when we had the ice storm," Ingersoll said.

"So we weren't talking too much about it but certainly, now the other anglophone superintendents and myself and the Department of Education will be having some dialogue about it."

Ingersoll said teachers and schools plan for an average of six or seven storm days when making their lesson plans. Last year, he said, there were only four or five.

"When that's spread over the course of the 10 months of the school year it doesn't have such a large impact, but obviously, what we're seeing right now is a concentration of time being missed in a short period of time.

Schools in the Anglophone East School District were closed for two to four days during the January ice storm, and then again Friday and Monday.

Another snowstorm is in the forecast for Thursday.

"It's easier to reflect and adjust your plan based on a few days, but when you start getting up to these kind of numbers ... it certainly is something we have to start thinking about more seriously," Ingersoll said.

A 'sensitive' issue

The district will look at the cumulative effect of so many missed classroom days, Ingersoll said, and teachers are already making adjustments.

"Depending on how many more days we miss between now and the end of March, we start to think about bigger-picture things like activities we're doing in school that take students out of class and professional learning days," he said.

A blizzard closed all schools across southern and central New Brunswick on Monday, along with most businesses. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
"Anytime it gets up over five or six days over the course of a whole school year you start to get concerned."

Ingersoll said he expects schools will begin to curtail and adjust any activities that take students out of the classroom, including assemblies. 

He said there are also two professional development days for teachers that could be postponed or cancelled to allow students to make up a lost day.

"It is a sensitive issue because number one, you want your kids to be in school … and you get concerned the more time they miss," Ingersoll said.

"I try to reassure parents by telling them that education in New Brunswick is a 13-year experience … if you think of the big picture, we will get students where they need to be."

No plan for e-learning

Ingersoll said teachers are focused now on what he calls, "essential learning," which is material students must learn to move on to the next level.

He said as far as sending work home during storm days, there is no district plan for that yet, since there is no way to ensure all students have access to the necessary technology.

"I think there are some real opportunities there," he said. "There are many teachers who are putting their information online but again, it depends on the students' ability to connect when they are home."

Ingersoll said he has not heard many complaints from parents about the growing number of storm days, most calls to his office are questions about how parents can support their children at home.

With files from Information Morning Moncton

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