P.E.I. school calendar change getting thumbs down from some parents

A change coming to P.E.I.'s school calendar next year isn't sitting well with some Island parents.

Education department combining March break and Easter to reduce school interruptions

P.E.I'.s education department says a committee - which includes two parent representatives - unanimously decided to make the change to next year's calendar. (CBC)

A change coming to P.E.I.'s school calendar next year isn't sitting well with some Island parents.

The Spring Park Home and School Association says the move to shift March break a week later to combine it with Easter — which falls on April 1st next year — is the wrong approach.

"A number of parents are expressing concerns about this," said Sheldon Opps, the association's president.

'Let March break be March break'

"Let March break be March break. Let people do what they want to do on March break, and de-couple that from Easter, which for many Islanders is a time to connect with a family on the Island to respect a religious holiday."

P.E.I'.s education department says a committee — which includes two parent representatives — unanimously decided to make the change to next year's calendar. 

The department says students will ultimately get the same number of days off, just over the course of one break rather than two. The goal of combining the two holidays is to reduce the number of interruptions in the school calendar.

"It's a challenge to gain momentum and keep the momentum going for learning," said Tammy Hubley-Little, the department's learning director.

"So we'd like to reduce those interruptions whenever possible."

Sheldon Opps, president of the Spring Park Home and School Association, wants to see March break separate from Easter. (CBC)

Hubley-Little maintains students will have enough time off to celebrate both March break and Easter. 

Sheldon Opps says he and other parents are still concerned what combining the two holidays next year could mean for March break in the future.

Setting a precedent 

"Moving forward, this could set a precedent for having it move into April," said Opps. "And then you get into whole different discussions about breaks and timeliness of things."

The department says as a result of a change to P.E.I.'s School Act last year, the calendar committee is allowed to schedule a spring break anytime in March or April.  

But she cautions that doesn't necessarily mean the committee will use that freedom, and choose to combine March break and Easter every year. 

"Given students' attention and their learning cycle, pushing it too far into April might be [a] challenge," said Hubley-Little.

"But moving it one week [next year] we felt was very appropriate."

At this point, no decisions around the school calendar beyond next year have been finalized. In 2019, Easter falls on April 21st.