February pro-D days won’t connect to Family Day due to event setup needs

·2 min read

The 2021-22 and 2022-23 school calendars for Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools have been determined, but some families may be disappointed with some of the scheduling.

The 2020-21 school year was the first time two professional development (pro-D) days in February happened on the Thursday and Friday before the Monday Family Day stat holiday. The draft calendars for the next two school years returned those two back-to-back pro-D days to a Monday and Tuesday earlier in the month.

The district says they received approximately 44 emails from the community with feedback on the draft calendars. The majority of those emails advocated for professional development days, particularly the ones in February and May, to link with holiday weekends, citing it eases disruption to work schedules as well as taking advantage of vacation opportunities.

Some trustees, Greg Keller and Stephanie Higginson, had misgivings about the scheduling of pro-D days given the strong support from the committee to keep the February days connected to Family Day weekend.

“What we hear consistently is that professional development days are really really difficult on the families and communities that we serve,” Higginson said.

While creating the calendar, the school district’s calendar planning committee receives input from the professional development committee who advocated for returning the February pro-D days to a Monday and Tuesday.

Monday is when the district-wide professional development day is held, explained Jo Cornthwaite, Nanaimo District Teachers’ Association’s professional issues officer. Volunteers require the Sunday to set up, which takes eight to 10 hours, she said. With all pro-D days held virtually this year, it was possible to hold the district pro-D day on a Thursday, followed by a school pro-D day, since there was no physical setup required.

Cornthwaite said continuing with virtual professional development days was discussed, but the format has limitations.

“When you’re not meeting in person there isn’t room for discussion and collaboration” between events and workshops, she said.

Feedback from NDTA members on virtual pro-D days has been positive, she said, but “everyone has asked for in-person as soon as possible because they are missing the collaboration time with each other.” She also said the full day in front of a screen is “much more taxing.”

The board of education passed the two-year calendar on March 10 with only Trustee Higginson opposed.

Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder