Friday , January 15 2021

Cancel the spring break

Do we have the luxury of taking a “spring break” this year in our school system?

I doubt. It should therefore be canceled, exceptionally.

We have wasted so much time at school over the past year because of this damn pandemic. Pupils in difficulty are even more so than ever; unions, oppositions, government are openly worried.

We postpone evaluations, we cancel others, due to lack of time. It will soon be necessary to identify “essential knowledge” to be taught as a priority. We think of French and mathematics. And that the teaching of the contents of “social universe” and other “ethics and religious culture” be postponed until later.

Certainly, these holidays at the end of February at the beginning of March are extremely appreciated. In Quebec, this practice was adopted at the end of the 1970s. There were significant increases in absenteeism at this time of the year.

The first to have proposed this break, Fernand Paradis, who headed a school board in Quebec, was inspired by a similar leave in France. “March breaks” and other “spring breaks” also existed in the United States and Canada.

Stopping for a week, practicing winter sports or going in the sun, helps combat winter fatigue that afflicts both students and teachers.

It will be pointed out to me that this fatigue will be all the greater in this pandemic year. Perhaps.

This is the opinion of Minister Jean-François Roberge, Véronique Hivon, a PQ critic in matters of education and of several parents. The minister still did not close the door to a cancellation yesterday, arguing that “for now”, it was not on the table.

But what to do during the spring break this year if, as can be expected, the sanitary measures will still be in place? No family gatherings, no museum, no cinema. Travel to the south? Not a good idea!

Even more cocooning, then? However, it does not underestimate this other fatigue of confinement at home, among oneself, for students and parents. School, in the context, is an outlet.

After all, as François Legault recalled yesterday, at the start of the pandemic, students missed entire weeks of school. Minister Roberge had even qualified the firsts of “leave”.

By insisting that he is taking responsibility for his choice to keep schools open now (when Ontario, among others, has opted for the closure), the premier underscored how gratifying he found it on Monday to see the students happy to meet their friends for the first time since December 17th.

One more week of this “socialization” at the end of winter could therefore help.

Of course, the teachers’ unions will reject the idea of cancellation, citing their collective agreements. But hey, let’s be flexible in these times of crisis. I will also be told that this week alone will not be able to make up for the delays.

My feeling is that, as in the fight against COVID, the measures must be added up. And the cancellation of the break, coupled with tutorials among others, could help to roll back this other noxious virus, that of ignorance.

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