closing for Winter Olympics
By Laureen McMahon
Catholic schools will be closed for two weeks next February
during the Vancouver-Whistler Winter 2010 Olympic Games, the
superintendent of Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver
Archdiocese has announced.
Laureen McMahon / The B.C.
St. Joseph the Worker students take a break from class to
visit the new Richmond Olympic Oval skating rink. Next year
they'll have an extended break as Catholic schools close
during the 2010 Winter Olympics. From top to bottom are
sisters Rachel, Abigail, and Gabrielle Lee and brothers
Gavin, Owen, and Aidan Lunny.
However, students will not miss any classes in the 2009-10 school
year, Doug Lauson noted.
"With Labour Day later than usual this year, the normal first day of
school would be Sept. 8," Lauson explained, but "we plan to open all
schools for teachers, both secondary and elementary, one week early
"We will officially begin the school year on Wednesday, Sept. 2,
instead," Lauson said, and use the week for the Faith Development
professional day and to professional development for teachers,
focussing on assessment and evaluation training.
"Effectively, all that we have done is to move the professional days
that would have occurred during the school year into the first week,
thereby creating additional instructional days for students to make
up for an extra week of closure."
To make up for the other week of closure, Lauson explained, the
CISVA 2010 spring break week which normally takes place in March
will be scheduled earlier than usual to coincide with the second
week of the Olympics in February.
The new schedule will be a win-win for both students and teachers,
Lauson predicted, because students will be able to experience the
Olympics with their families, either on TV at home, or at a venue if
they have tickets. With schools closed, teachers are free to
volunteer at events and many, he said, have expressed interest in
being part of the once-in-a-lifetime Olympic experience.
"Everyone will benefit another way," said Lauson. "Students in
Catholic schools often travel long distances to get to school and
depend on busses or cars for transport. With schools closed during
the Olympics, neither parents, students, nor teachers will have to
fight the increased volume of traffic, road closures, and detours
which are a usual consequence of the games."
Lauson also said that the Catholic Educators Conference which
usually takes place at Canada Place Trade and Convention Centre each
February will be rescheduled to April 22 and 23. A province-wide
conference hosted by the five Catholic dioceses will take place in
"It was impossible for us to secure our usual conference dates in
the middle of the Olympic event. Consequently, all the dioceses
concluded that a joint conference in Kelowna later in the year would
be a good alternative."
The announcement of the intention of Vancouver school trustees to
keep public schools open during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter
Games is upsetting many secondary school teachers, according to Anne
Guthrie Warman, president of the Secondary Teachers' Association.
"They haven't listened to our concerns about staffing." These
concerns, she said, "are the concerns of the secondary
administrators as well, and of the human resources department. We're
all saying the same thing; this is going to be very difficult. It
won't be business as usual."
Teachers are very concerned about the projected increase in
travelling time to get to their schools, added Warman. Thirty-five
per cent of secondary teachers live outside Vancouver, she
Moving the public school spring break next year to coincide with the
games, closing the secondary schools, and making up lost instruction
time would be preferable to keeping the schools open, said Warman.
The trustees voted to meet with Metro-area school districts,
TransLink, the Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Organizing
Committee, the city, and the provincial government to discuss the
development of a transportation strategy to enable teachers and
students to get to school during the games.
Warman has called any expectation that the transportation problems
can be easily solved "naive."
Glen Hansman, president of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers'
Association, told The B.C. Catholic that members voted last October
to keep the elementary schools open during the Winter Olympics, and
that decision remains in effect.
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