All year we have been posting stories to help explain the school year calendar. This month’s story is one of that series. While the positioning of Christmas Break is less mysterious than some of our other dates, we asked Assistant Superintendent Mark Thiesen to tell us a little about this break.
Despite the obvious, placing the Christmas Break in the calendar is not quite as cut and dried as it may seem. It changes based on what day of the week December 25th falls on. Unlike Spring Break, the placement of the Christmas Break is not defined in the ATA collective agreement. The two-week Christmas Break is defined in our Administrative Procedure 60-05 School Year Calendar, but the actual placement is an element of discussion each year.
Public opinion is generally more unified when Christmas falls early in the week but opinions vary when it falls on Thursday or Friday. Some people argue for a final three day week. Others want the full week off.
There are many reasons cited to support opinions. In the end, the impact on student learning is prioritized and the significance of January Diploma Exam dates has been critical in making this decision. Over the years, our boards have selected two-week blocks that begin on Mondays and end on Fridays rather than starting mid-week. This results in the number of instructional days in December remaining around 15. This also keeps the number of days prior to final exams in January sufficient to refresh students’ knowledge and skills. So the decision is made in light of students’ learning needs, not the availability of shopping days before Christmas.
The board is scheduled to review and authorize the 2019-20 school year calendar at their December 12th board meeting. Please watch for a story about this in the new year.