Some parents on Prince Edward Island are questioning the decision to close schools for two weeks during the Canada Winter Games.
All schools across the Island are set to close from Feb. 18 to March 5, largely so buses can be freed up to move athletes between venues.
Morgan Callin-Longden, who works full-time and has a son in the school system, said she’s been lucky enough to find childcare, but those extra days will cost her extra money.
She also says all the unexpected breaks since the pandemic began have set some children back.
“With everything we have just went through and this year the kids finally get a normal year and then we have Fiona… I think this year would have maybe been a time to reevaluate and do something differently so that the kids didn’t have to miss out on this and so that the parents didn’t have to stress about this.”
It is a common practice for communities hosting the Winter Games to close schools. And because this year’s Games coincide with March break and Islander Day, students on P.E.I. will only miss an extra four days.
Wayne Carew, chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society, said the inconvenience for parents is worth the overall economic benefits and enjoyment the event will bring.
“When you think about the economic impact, the opportunity to host the nation will have 3,600 athletes and coaches here coming from about 1,100 communities,” he said.
“What a great opportunity to showcase Prince Edward Island and show them what Prince Edward Island is all about. These athletes are going to create lifetime opportunities and lifetime memories.”
We really need the buses and you can’t really get the buses unless the schools are closed.— Wayne Carew
He said the host society approached the school board as they were preparing their bid to host the Games almost five years ago, because they had to show in the bid that the buses would be available to transport athletes to and from the different venues.
“We really need the buses and you can’t really get the buses unless the schools are closed,” he said.
In a statement, the Department of Education said it released the 2022-23 school calendar a year in advance to give parents as much notice as possible.
The statement went on to say it was a priority to “protect a significant amount of uninterrupted instructional time in January and February leading up to the Canada Games, which will positively impact student learning.”
As well, it said it was important to provide time for families, students and school staff to be involved in the Games.
But Callin-Longden said it’s more important for her son, who has autism, to avoid another disruption in his schedule.
“He has come very far, but with all the breaks we’ve already had, we’ve watched him regress time and time again, so this means we could be looking forward to yet some more regression.”
She said other parents she has spoken with are still trying to figure out how to manage their work with finding childcare.
“I am in a mom group and we’ve kind of joked about starting her own day camp and just taking turns, but I think it is stressful for everyone,” she said.
“It’s really just unknown how people are going to make ends meet with those two weeks off. For those of us that do have care, we’re quite grateful.”