Edmonton public high schools to offer early, late classes

Public high-school students will have the option to start their days earlier or end them later next year.

The Edmonton Public School Division is planning to increase the number of blocks for students at most of its schools from four to six.

This means early risers could get in an extra class and wrap up earlier in the day to get to part time jobs or after school activities. Later classes will also be an option.

During lunch hour Wednesday outside of Victoria School of the Performing and Visual Arts, Grade 9 student Ryann Crocker said she'd be open to a late afternoon class, when she feels more productive.

"Sometimes my brain does not work earlier in the morning but later in the day I'm able to focus more and more," she said. "And then right as I'm into that focus mode, school's over, and it would be handy if I could stay in that focus mode for longer.

It was the opposite sentiment for Grade 12 student Sydney Weiss who took an early morning sports performance class and found it helpful for juggling a busy schedule.

"It's nice to still have room in the actual timetable in the core classes, and extra time before and after," she said.

The change would take effect in the 2020-2021 school year, though division spokesperson Carrie Rosa said some of the city's high schools, such as M.E. LaZerte, already offer flexible class times. 

"A number of our high schools already offer some courses in the morning or some courses in what would traditionally be deemed after-school time. They do this already across the city and this change brings some consistency.

Rosa said it will be up to each school to sort out what exactly the stretched start and dismissal times will be.

As students flex their schedules, so will teachers, Rosa said. Teachers have to work a certain number of instructional minutes per year, which won't change, but when they work may shift, she said. 

The change isn't related to the recent provincial budget, Rosa said, as the plan has been in the works for some time. 

She said consultations about the specific times are happening at the school level, and that parents who want to provide input should provide feedback to their child's school.