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Education unions say postponing March break not the best move

After the Ford government moved spring break to April
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On Thursday, Ontario's Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced that March break would be postponed until April. Instead of students having their break between March 15 to 19, they will be out of school from April 12 to 16. 

In an interview with 570 NEWS, Minister Lecce mentioned the decision was based on advice from the province's Chief Medical Officer. "So, we want to be cautious given these new variants, and the Public Health Measures Table provided unanimous support for moving it, and we're following the best medical advice available to Ontario." 

However, not everyone agrees with this decision, Patrick Etmanski, President, Ontario's English Teachers Association, Waterloo said teachers, students, and parents need the break to be in March because of the back-and-forth between in-class and online learning. 

"They're tired, they're exhausted, the kids are mentally exhausted, they are just worn down, and to even consider this now has been a huge blow to teachers' mental health and morale." 

Before the decision was made, Minister Lecce mentioned the province did consult the Principal's Association, Trustees Association, as well as all four teachers unions, to hear their perspective. 

"But at the end of the day, we are listening to them, and taking them into consideration, but this is a pandemic, it's a human health crisis, and we're going to do whatever it takes to keep their members safe, all families safe, and we're not going to put anyone at risk." 

However, during those meetings, Etmanski said what he heard was all affiliates presented the same case that March break must stay where it is. "If you ask educators the people in the business they would all say the break needs to happen in March, and people need that break now." 

This year, the Easter long weekend is in April, and for schools the holiday ends on Monday, April 5, meaning students will go back to school for four days, then be off for another week. 

The decision to move the break does not make sense to Greg Weiler, President, Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario, Waterloo Region. 

"So, I think there's a lot of questions around the disruption the change will cause, and even how much sense it makes to the way they have proposed rescheduling the break."

On Thursday, all four teachers' unions released a joint statement regarding the April break, stating these are unprecedented times and March break is much needed for students, teachers, and families who have been under tremendous pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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