UPEI extends semester to make up for storm days

​UPEI’s senate has voted to extend the current university semester by adding three more optional teaching days.

Use of three more teaching days at discretion of instructors

Conditions in Charlottetown the morning of Feb. 16, 2017, one of six days UPEI had to cancel all classes this semester. (Kevin Yarr/CBC)

​UPEI's senate has voted to extend the current university semester by adding three more optional teaching days.

In an email to staff and students, the university said the move was "due to recent and anticipated storm/inclement weather closures."

Students have lost six full days of classes since the semester began in January, with another two days when evening classes were cancelled and two more weekend days where campus facilities including the library were closed because of the weather.

Making up for lost lab time a challenge, says dean

The last day of classes has now been moved from Tuesday, Apr. 4 to Friday, Apr. 7. According to the email, the extra days of classes are optional with instructors deciding whether to use them, and communicating that decision to their students.

Interim Dean of Science Kathy Gottschall-Pass said the closures have been particularly challenging for classes with lab components, which sometimes can't be made up.

"Because for a lot of courses, especially biology courses as an example, they will have a lab exam at the end of the semester, and you can't test students on content they haven't had an opportunity to see," she said. "So laboratories in particular are a real problem when we have multiple storm days."

Three more days a good compromise, says student union

Student union president Nathan Hood said the initial proposal from administration was to add six more instructional days to the calendar, but the student union felt that would push the end of the semester back too far and require students from out-of-province to have to re-book flights home.

UPEI Student Union President Nathan Hood said the initial proposal to add six teaching days was too much. (submitted photo)

"I think [the decision to add three days] responds to the needs of both faculty members who wanted to teach their material, but then also students," he said.

The start of the exam period has been pushed back three days, from Friday, Apr. 7 to Monday, Apr. 10. However it will be a more compressed period, with the end of exams moving just one day, from Friday, Apr. 21 to Saturday, Apr. 22.