School districts will be able to determine their own calendar and offer online classes to students in any grade under amendments to the School Act presented Thursday.
Education Minister George Abbott said the changes are designed to increase flexibility for schools and students. The ministry will continue to require a minimum number of instructional hours, but school boards will be able to design their own calendars.
The standard school calendar is a relic of an agrarian society where children did farm work in summer, Abbott said. A two-month summer break can result in setbacks for student learning, especially those who are struggling to keep up, he said.
The topic of year-round learning has come up during election campaigns, but has yet to make it to the board of education table for debate.
“It’s a huge change to consider,” said Greater Victoria Board of Education chair Peg Orcherton. “(Allowing year-round schooling) might affect families that have children in more than one district and it might have some educational merit.”
While calendar changes are worthy of discussion, Orcherton said, she doesn’t see the change happening any time soon.
“It might be a couple of years at least before any changes could even be contemplated.”
School districts will have to holds consultations with the public and staff before changing the school calendar, and the ministry has to approve changes before they can take effect.
– with files from Tom Fletcher