Fredericton — New Brunswick schools will see a dramatic change in their annual calendar as the Conservative government is moving the two-month summer break from July and August to January and February. The move comes as pressure has been placed on the school boards and government to make up lost time due to snow days in the province.
Minister of Education Dominic Cardy made the announcement earlier today in front of Leo Hayes High School, which was closed due to unsafe road conditions.
“It is clear that New Brunswick students have suffered from more lost school days than any other province. By moving the two-month break to winter we are ensuring that students will already be home during storm days and won’t miss as much class time.”
In many cases the school closures have been the result of unsafe roads rather than the weather itself. Carl Urquhart, minister of Public Safety, also spoke at the press conference.
“Our party ran on a platform of reduced spending and I’m pleased to say that we have spent roughly 10 per cent less on road maintenance in the province than the previous Liberal government. That was a real struggle for us because the Liberals had already made significant cuts in this area.
“By closing schools throughout the winter we estimate we can save another 20 per cent. We are incredibly proud of the work that we’re doing which is benefiting everyday New Brunswickers.”
Premier Higgs was not at the event but agreed to make a statement by phone.
“Kids these days aren’t built as rugged as when I grew up, so of course it makes sense not to risk their safety. Back in my day we would walk 20 miles to and from school carrying a jerry can of water and bundle of firewood for the class stove. It was a lot colder back then too because global warming hadn’t kicked in yet, let me tell you.”
Higgs quickly became defensive when asked to clarify his position on global warming. “Well I didn’t mean to say global warming — obviously that isn’t a thing — it’s just that the weather isn’t as cold as it was back in the day. That doesn’t mean it’s warming. I need to let you go, I have Arthur Irving on the other line.”
Not everybody is applauding the government’s move. George Daley, President of the New Brunswick Teachers’ Association, believes that the government should be providing additional compensation to teachers.
“Winter school closures account for roughly four weeks of paid vacation for us. By moving the summer break to winter, we are expected to work far more than we already do. Other than having two weeks for Christmas, a week for March break, every stat and banker holiday, countless personal development days and a two-month vacation, we get virtually no time off!”
No students were found near the school for comment. In the coming weeks the Department of Education will be working on a plan to transition the break, which is expected to be implemented during the winter of 2020.