© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Education Minister Alan McIsaac
Education Minister Alan McIsaac is trying to find more classroom time for Island students to make up for all the lost time this winter.
Students returned to class on Wednesday after missing five consecutive days due to bad weather. They've missed a total of 12 days this school year.
The English Language School Board cancelled a professional development day and parent-teacher interview day scheduled for Friday to make up for lost class time.
McIssac calls it "a crazy year'' with so much lost time, explaining that he's in discussions with the board superintendent and the P.E.I. Teachers' Federation about options.
The minister said he wrote a letter to Gilles Arsenault, president of the PEITF, on Wednesday to see if teachers are okay with giving up their scheduled PD day in May in favour of class time.
"I wrote the letter to ask if (Gilles) would consider giving that day up this year for instructional time,'' McIsaac said following question period in the legislature on Wednesday. "That's their decision and we will find out next week when we get a response back from them. We hope that we can capture as much time coming up to the end of June.''
Arsenault said the PEITF is most concerned about the fact that government and the school board made the decision to cancel PD day on Friday without consulting with teachers first.
"That is where we are kind of disappointed,'' Arsenault said. "We learned (of the cancellation) through the media. There was no consultation with the federation and we're a big stakeholder in this.
"We learned it through social media and through different channels that this was going to happen. Teachers are disappointed that there hasn't been a whole lot of communication on this. Teachers value the instructional time.''
McIsaac said based on his discussion with the board superintendent there isn't much desire to cancel field trips, for example, that have already been paid for.
"But there are things that, perhaps, aren't fully paid for or booked at the present time so perhaps we look at capturing some instructional time there too,'' the minister said.
McIsaac said adding school days onto the end of the school year is not an option.
Immanuel Christian School, for example, chose years ago to create a June schedule that ends a little earlier than the government system because it found children's productivity wanes as June advances.
Arsenault says there is no reason to blow things out of proportion.
"(Teachers) are used to adjusting. They can adjust their teaching, they can send homework. There are a variety of ways they can amend (the schedule) to get this (year) back on track. At this point, there's no need to panic.''
The teachers' federation president notes that PD days have a long-lasting effect on generations of students.
McIsaac said the priority is to try and find extra class time, wherever it causes the least amount of disruption.
"We've had bad years like this before . . . but we have a curriculum that we want to get finished so we need a specific amount of time.''