New school calendar includes a fall break for students

By Matthew McCully – Local Journalism Initiative
New school calendar includes a fall break for students

Four planning days (Nov. 15-18) were built into the Eastern Townships School Board (ETSB) calendar for the youth sector’s upcoming school year. According to the board, the four-day stretch will offer students a break in the fall and offer professional development opportunities for staff at the ETSB.

“While we have traditionally had a spring break, this is a new initiative to also have a fall break where both teachers and students have a chance to catch their breath after the early part of the school year, and before the rush towards Christmas,” explained ETSB chair Michael Murray at Tuesday night’s council of commissioners meeting. Assistant Director General Kandy Mackey went on to mention some of the pedagogical advantages of a fall break.

During question period, one parent asked if it would in fact be a break for everyone.

“If the ETSB allows HSAs (Handicapped Student Attendant) to be daycare technicians, my question is concerning the fall break,” the parent said. “How are we going to ensure that HSAs have access to training during that fall break if they are wearing two hats?” she asked, also wondering if daycare would be provided. “If the point is to give a break and to do training, then we need to ensure that those people have access to the training.”

Chairman Murray said the board is actively grappling with that very issue, and the broader issue of training of HSAs and SETs (Special Education Technician) to function in their particular roles, some of which require specialized training.

“I can’t answer in any particular detail, but we are certainly focused on that issue,” Murray said.

As to whether daycare will be provided, Murray said that answer lies with the governing boards of schools. “We will encourage governing boards to provide daycare during that break, but it is strictly up to each school.”
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