School schedules are becoming hard to follow, given how often the province has had to change the program according to the whims of the COVID-19 pandemic. But the recent announcement of postponing March Break to April 12 has some parents celebrating, while others are bristling.
Many local parents, like Suzie Taylor, are glad that kids will be continuing in school for a little longer.
“I have two kids at Quaker Village Public School, one in grade 6 and another in grade 4,” says Taylor. “I think it’s great for our kids safety, not travelling with time off, and my kids do so much better with routine, so waking up and having something to do motivates us all.” Other parents, however, are disappointed that after booking this time off, sometimes months in advance, they have now used up their vacation days.
“I booked off March Break in order to spend with my three children, and my vacation time has to be submitted in January for the entire year,” says parent Crystal James. “I am hoping that I am now able to adjust my request.”
Many think that the break’s date change does not take into account the mental health of the students and educators. In what has been an unusual and often stressful year, many are worried that postponing this break risks wearing down students and teachers. The Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens (AEFO), the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO), the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), and the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation (OSSTF/FEESO) together released a statement saying that the decision to postpone the break was “reckless and baseless.
“These are unprecedented times, and this is a much-needed break for students, teachers, education workers, and families who have been under tremendous pressure throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The government’s decision to postpone March Break does not take into consideration the mental health and wellbeing of those involved,” read a portion of the statement.
Parent Jeannine Laroque says she and her family were really looking forward to this break. “With my virtually learning student we need the break now. We just wanted a rest from the grind. We weren’t planning to travel.”
Laroque also mentioned that as someone who co-parents her child, this last minute change has the potential to be very disrupting. “My child was concerned about the change as to where she would spend her break. Renegotiating an alteration to the parenting plan isn’t always possible and puts single parents in jeopardy of losing more precious time with their children. I’m lucky it won't be affecting my parenting time but that last minute change could have been disastrous”
While many worry that by the time the break rolls around in April, the community will be again in a lockdown, amidst a possible third wave of the virus, Education Minister Lecce said the decision was made based on “the best advice of public health officials” in order to keep students safe and schools open.
When originally announcing the March Break postponement last Thursday, Lecce said the goal of the change was to “limit community transmission” of COVID-19, as the province begins to face an increase in variant cases.
Justyne Edgell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Uxbridge Cosmos