The Kamloops-Thompson school district will be joining almost every other district in B.C. by returning to a two-week spring break next year.
The district’s board of Education, the Kamloops-Thompson Teachers’ Association (KTTA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees 3500 (CUPE) have agreed to the terms of an additional week for spring break.
The agreement comes after surveys in previous years showed an overwhelming majority of parents and teachers favoured the two-week break over the one-week break in place locally.
At issue was how to add legislated instruction hours to the school year that would be lost to an extra week of spring break.
The district did have a three-year window — between 2015 and 2017 — in which there was a two-week spring break. The district returned to a one-week break in 2018. At the time, the district said merging Easter and the break was one of the options on which staff and teachers could not agree.
In a release the school district noted the provincial government gives school districts authority to determine their own calendars. They must ensure students receive a minimum number of instructional hours each school year.
Results from the KTTA’s vote showed 96 per cent of union members are in favour of a longer break.
“Teachers are looking forward to a work year that more aligns with the rest of the province,” KTTA president Laurel Macpherson said. “With the additional week in the spring, teachers and students will be able to rejuvenate and come back recharged for the remainder of the school year.”
To meet the minimum number of instructional hours required by the Ministry of Education and accommodate the two-week spring break, the duration of instructional days will increase for the 2021-2022 school year.
The additional instructional time will come at the end of the school day, not through a shortened lunch break.
Ninety-five per cent of CUPE members also voted in favour of the change over the weekend.
“The extended spring break is a benefit for our membership,” CUPE 3500 president Corey Grabner said. “We were committed to ensuring that the extra week did not come at the expense of our CUPE employees.”
For CUPE, the terms include increasing the time worked each day, then banking those hours so there is no lost time for the hundreds of support staff employed by the school district.
Kamloops-Thompson is one of only two school districts in the province with a one-week spring break. Bulkley Valley, in the Smithers area, is the other district, which this past March reaffirmed its one-week spring break schedule for next year. There were only two other districts with one-week spring breaks — Vancouver Island North and Campbell River — but they have expanded to two weeks in the past two school years.
The calendars proposed for the next three years will be posted to sd73.bc.ca for 30 days in order to receive feedback before being forwarded to the Minister of Education for approval.
The dates for the proposed extended spring break are:
• March 21 to April 1, 2022;
• March 20 to March 31, 2023;
• March 18 to April 2, 2024.