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Prince Edward Island

Why schools are closed during the Canada Winter Games

Some parents on Prince Edward Island are questioning the decision to close schools for two weeks during the Canadian Winter Games.

All schools across the island are scheduled to close from February 18 to March 5, mainly to free up buses to transport athletes between venues.

Morgan Callin-Longden, who works full-time and has a son in the school system, said she was lucky to find childcare but those extra days would cost her extra money.

She also says all the unexpected breaks since the pandemic began have set some kids back.

“With everything we’ve just been through, and this year the kids are finally getting a normal year, and then we have Fiona … I think maybe this year would have been a time to re-evaluate and do something differently with that.” the kids wouldn’t have to miss out on this and so the parents wouldn’t have to worry about it.”

It is common practice for communities hosting the Winter Games to close schools. And with this year’s games coinciding with the March holidays and Islanders’ Day, PEI students will only miss four extra days.

Wayne Carew, chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society, said the inconvenience to parents is worth the overall economic benefits and joy the event will bring.

Wayne Carew, Chairman of the 2023 Canadian Winter Games Host Society.
Wayne Carew, Chair of the 2023 Canada Winter Games Host Society, says it’s a great opportunity for students to see top athletes in action. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

“If you think about the economic impact, 3,600 athletes and coaches from about 1,100 communities will come here to host the nation,” he said.

“What a great opportunity to showcase Prince Edward Island and show them what Prince Edward Island is all about. These athletes will create opportunities for life and memories for life.”

We really need the buses and you can’t really get the buses unless the schools are closed.– Wayne Carew

He said the host company approached the school board when they were preparing their bid to host the Games almost five years ago because they needed to show in the bid that the buses used to transport athletes to and from the various venues to would be available.

“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 notice as early as possible.

The statement went on to say that it is a priority to “protect a significant portion of the uninterrupted classroom time leading up to the Canada Games in January and February, which will have a positive impact on student learning.”

It is also important to give families, students and school staff time to participate in the Games.

But Callin-Longden said it was more important for her son, who has autism, to avoid another disruption to his schedule.

“He’s come a long way, but with all the breaks we’ve had we’ve seen him regress over and over again, so we can look forward to more regressions.”

Morgan Callin Longden
Parent Morgan Callin-Longden says the students have already had enough breaks in their school year. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

She said other parents she spoke to are still trying to figure out how to cope with their job of finding childcare.

“I’m in a moms group and we’ve joked about starting our own day camp and just taking turns, but I think it’s stressful for everyone,” she said.

“It’s really just unknown how people are going to make ends meet with these two weeks off. For those of us who have care, we are very grateful.”

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