While experts and players in the education community oppose the cancellation of the March school break, the “father” of the spring break, Fernand Paradis, believes on the contrary that the exceptional context would justify his disappearance this year.
“Intuitively, I am inclined to believe that the main thing is teaching. For this reason, I believe that we must put aside the break week this year, ”he told the Newspaper during a telephone interview yesterday.
Fernand Paradis was at the head of a Quebec school board when he succeeded, in 1979, in consultation with the teachers’ union, in establishing the first week of spring break. The initiative snowballed.
Now 88 years old, he recalls that spring break was created to allow students to drop out by doing a host of activities, many of which will not be possible this year.
Mr. Paradis is also worried about the academic delay of students due to the pandemic.
However, his opinion is far from being shared in the education network. Teachers ‘unions, parents’ representatives and school administrators oppose the wall-to-wall cancellation of the spring break.
Not the solution
At the Regroupement des committees de parents autonomes du Québec, it is not considered to be the priority at this time. “There are more urgent things to do to help our students,” says his co-spokesperson Marc-Étienne Deslauriers.
At the Federation of Parents’ Committees of Quebec, the president, Kévin Roy, believes that decisions regarding the school calendar must be made locally. Students in the Montreal region have missed many more days of school than those in the Gaspé, he argues.
Several experts also agree that this is not the preferred solution.
“There is a lot of exhaustion this year. Maintaining spring break will give teachers a bit of a break. In terms of learning delays, the duration of teaching does not necessarily guarantee quality, ”says Stéphane Allaire, professor in the Department of Educational Sciences at the University of Quebec at Chicoutimi.
Private schools are getting organized
In the private network, some schools are however planning to set up different formulas for the spring break, indicates the president of the federation which represents them, David Bowles. At Collège Charles-Lemoyne, where Mr. Bowles is director general, remedial courses will be offered to students in difficulty during the March break, he says.
In terms of health, some also believe that the cancellation of the spring break could prevent several families from taking vacations in the sun, with all the risks of contagion that these trips abroad involve.
However, a change in the school calendar is not the solution, according to epidemiologist Nimâ Machouf. “The federal government must close the borders, that doesn’t make sense in the current context,” she says.
► At the office of the Minister of Education, Jean-François Roberge, it is indicated that the intention is to maintain the spring break scheduled “for the moment”.
Did you know?
- In 1979, Fernand Paradis, then director of the Commission des écoles catholiques de Québec, established the first spring break, inspired by the “spring holidays” of schoolchildren in France.
- In the mid-1980s, spring break extended to all schools in the province.
- To respect the school calendar, which must have 180 school days, schools had to bring the start of the school year forward by one week at the end of August.
“We ask a lot of it, both of the students and of the education personnel, everyone will need this break. It will take more than a year to regain the gains. Let’s take the time to do things right. ”
– Josée Scalabrini, President of the Federation of Teaching Unions (FSE-CSQ)
“I hope they will cancel spring break. The children have several weeks to go back to school. My daughters would rather go to school than stay at home. ”
– Sébastien Genois, father of three daughters aged 10, 12 and 15, Laval
“A week off, after two months of effort, it will encourage young people. This period of leave is an interesting landmark for them. ”
– Dr Gilles Julien, pediatrician
“You have to think about doing things differently before changing the school calendar. There have been a lot of last minute changes in schools since the start of the year, there is no need to add another layer. ”
– Nancy Granger, professor at the Faculty of Education of the University of Sherbrooke