Spring break is now in full swing. But whether that is a time of refreshment or a stress-filled scramble for extra child care depends very much on perspective. Most school districts – although not all – moved from a one-week break to a two-week break in the past decade.
There’s no particularly sound educational reason for that. The longer break began as a budget saving measure. When classes aren’t in session, school districts save on overhead like fuel, lights, heating and costs for casual employees like teachers on call. Of course, some of the largest costs – like pay for regular teachers, for instance – aren’t impacted by spring break because salaried employees are paid based on hours of instruction throughout the school year.
There’s an argument to be made that money isn’t really saved by a longer spring break – just shifted, from the general provincial taxpayers to families, who now find themselves paying for extra child care and activities or taking time off work.
While many families – particularly those with a parent at home, flexible work schedules or the means to take off for a sunny vacation – welcome a longer spring break, others find the added week a strain.
It’s not hard to see that people like working single parents will be most challenged, and the most vulnerable kids – those who will spend most of their break in front of a screen, or whose families rely on social supports at their school – who find a longer break more challenging.
Before the two-week spring hiatus becomes something that’s “always been done” it’s worth considering who’s really getting the break here and who’s been left dealing with the impacts of this downloading.
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