New Truth and Reconciliation Day model in Catholic school calendar approved by board

Michael Oleksyn/Daily Herald The Prince Albert Catholic School Division board of education met in the Education Centre in September, 2022.

The Prince Albert Catholic Division board of education gave approval to the 2023-24 school year calendar at their regular meeting on Monday.

The calendar is tentative until the Ministry of Education gives final approval.

With Truth and Reconciliation Day falling on Saturday, Sept. 30, the division decided to create a long weekend around that date by making Friday, Sept. 29 a professional development day for teachers.

“We have had some discussion at the board table about Truth and Reconciliation and we know we have done it where we have had students in schools for activities,” director of education Lorel Trumier said.

“But the discussion at the board table has been that there is lots of really good learning opportunities for families to engage with their children outside of the school and in the community because there has been really so many fruitful events that are occurring on Truth and Reconciliation Day.

“This year we are going to try and see what that looks like, see what opportunities that students and families might take up.”

The work during the professional development day will also have a similar theme. Trumier expects teachers to take advantage of that day to work on Truth and Reconciliation-type activities as well.

In the draft, school will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 5 next school year because of where Labour Day has landed this calendar year, with teachers having assigned teacher time on Aug. 28, 29, 30, 31 and Sept. 1. The teacher convention is scheduled for March 15, 2023. Elementary Student Parent Conferences are on Oct. 23 to 26 and Feb. 5 to 8, 2023. High School conferences are on Oct. 18 and March 13.

With Christmas falling on a Monday this year, Christmas break won’t officially begin until Dec. 25. Students will be back in class on Jan. 8.

The February break is from Feb.19 to 23 and there is an Easter break from April 1 until April 5. The last day of classes will be on June 26 of 2023.

Trumier said that the Sept. 5 start date was exciting.

“It will be after the September long weekend, which is required by legislation, and so this year, the Minister has set an alternative date because he can do that, especially in years where the September long weekend will fall later and we don’t get enough school days in the school year,” she explained.

The calendar is expected to be approved by the province by May at the latest. The calendar includes 315 minutes of instruction per day and 950 hours of instruction per school year as directed in the Education Act.

The Ministry has approved an early start for the next school year, with school beginning before Labour Day.

According to the Education act, any year when the statutory holiday occurs on September 5 or later, the education minister can choose to start school during the previous week before the holiday. Labour Day is Sept. 4 this year.

The legislation to start school after Labour Day was introduced in 2011.