Home Education Winter break a welcome year-end reprieve during COVID

Winter break a welcome year-end reprieve during COVID

Friday December 18 is the last day of K-12 classes before winter break in SD61, SD62, SD63 and SD79. Schools re-open on Monday January 4, 2021.

Friday December 11, 2020 | VANCOUVER ISLAND, BC [Updated 11 am December 14, 2020]

by Kiley Verbowski | Island Social Trends | Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., editor

This year, winter breaks feels more important than ever for students, teachers, and their loved ones to relax and recharge.

COVID-19 infections have been raging in a second surge this fall and escalating in this last month of a very long pandemic-driven year. The year’s case count is 40,797 at December 11 (758 on Vancouver Island), and 9,589 active cases are being dealt with by so many families at this moment (105 of those on Vancouver Island).

However, during Dr. Bonnie Henry’s COVID-19 briefing on December 7 she stated that there are no plans to extend winter break for public schools. “We are not having large numbers of transmission events in schools,” she said, adding that the decision was made in consultation with stakeholders. She has often referred to classrooms in schools as ‘controlled environments’ where public health protocols can be confidently managed.

Dr Bonnie Henry, December 10, 2020
Provincial Health Officer Dr Bonnie Henry during her December 10, 2020 COVID media availability in Victoria. “We know this is hard.”

Meanwhile, at the post-secondary level, on December 4 the University of Victoria senate voted to extend the winter break from January 4 to instead go to January 11 2021, for students anyways. Administration, campus operators, and instructors will return to work on Wednesday January 4, 2021.

Winter break profile:

Public health orders are for people to stay home with their own household bubble and not undertake any non-essential travel this Christmas holiday season. Students returning home from school are exempt from this travel rule, but all international travelers are required to self-isolate.

So who’s on break in K-12 and post-secondary? Island Social Trends has gathered all the dates for you in one place.

SD61 – Greater Victoria School District:

  • The last day of classes will be Friday December 18, 2020. School will reopen on Monday January 4, 2021.
  • SD61 provides education for approximately 20,000 students in 27 elementary schools, 10 middle schools, and seven high schools.

SD62 – Sooke and Westshore:

  • The last day of classes will be Friday December 18, 2020. School will reopen on Monday January 4, 2021.
  • New catchment boundaries are under review before two new schools open in Westhills in September 2022.
  • On Tuesday, December 15, 2020 a public board meeting will be held virtually at 7 pm.

SD63 – Saanich:

  • The last day of classes will be Friday December 18, 2020. School will reopen on Monday January 4, 2021.
  • A Kindergarten registration information evening will be hosted on Thursday January 7, 2021 at 7 pm for young families. More information can be found on their website.

SD79 – Cowichan Valley:

  • The last day of classes will be Friday December 18, 2020. School will reopen on Monday January 4, 2021.
  • The last advisory committee meeting of this year will be held on Tuesday December 15 at 4:30 pm.

University of Victoria:

UVic joined other large campuses across BC in their decision last week to extend the winter break in response to mental health concerns expressed by students and some staff.

President Kevin Hall joined the
University of Victoria this summer.

The last day of this semester’s exam break is Monday December 21, 2020. Second-term classes will begin for all faculties on Monday January 11, which is three business days later than previously scheduled. Practicum and co-op courses will resume on their original start date.

The later start date will be reflected in April’s final exam schedule being one day shorter, and exams will be scheduled on Sundays, which are usually not utilized.

The new start day is expected to allow students more time to relax, and self-isolate if they are travelling for the holidays, and to give instructors more time to prepare for another online semester.

Camosun College:

Camosun College
Camosun College has two campuses in the Greater Victoria area: Lansdowne and Interurban.

The last day of this semester’s examination period is Tuesday December 22, 2020. Both the Lansdowne campus and Interurban campus will reopen on January 4, 2021. Most courses will commence on Monday January 11, 2021, as previously scheduled.

Most Camosun College courses switched to an online format in March 2020, and are still being conducted mainly through Zoom and D2L.

Vancouver Island University:

VIU has three campuses: Nanaimo, Cowichan, and Powell River. Some dates may vary between campuses.

Originally, this semester’s final examination period was scheduled to wrap up on December 23, but will now conclude on Saturday December 19, 2020.

VIU opened their newest campus in Cowichan in 2011.

Fred Jacklin, a registrar, told IST in an email that, “after careful consideration and much discussion, VIU decided to stay with the scheduled semester start date of Thursday January 7.”

VIU has always offered a variety of online courses, and some certificate, diploma, and master degrees entirely online.

During the 2020/21 academic year, VIU adopted a hybrid teaching model for courses that have experiential learning components.

University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University:

Both UBC and SFU announced last that they too would be extending winter break. The original start date of January 4, 2021 will be pushed back to January 11, 2021. This will be in effect for UBC’s Vancouver and Okanagan campuses.

“The hope is that by allowing a delayed start to classes,” wrote UBC President Santa J. Ono in a statement last week, “we can help our students, faculty and staff to better prepare for Winter Session Term 2.”

“As I reflect on the year,” he wrote, “I am proud of the way our community has come together to ensure we continue to provide an outstanding experience for our students.”

Resilience through the pandemic:

Ono’s sentiment can be extended to all teachers, school administrators, teaching assistants, practicum students, and childcare workers across the province.

Most people in BC note with respect and admiration the commitment of educators, the unfettered enthusiasm of students who carry on with their classes and coursework, and the overall resilience of the learning community. The winter break is hopefully relaxing and rejuvenating for all. // IST

city of langford, christmas 2020
Safe moments during the holiday season.
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==== About the writer:

Kiley Verbowski, writer, 2020
Kiley Verbowski is a writer with Island Social Trends.

Kiley Verbowski, BA, is a writer based in Victoria, BC who contributes on a wide variety of topics for Island Social Trends.