First spring, then fall? Toronto high school ponders adding fall break

Click to play video: 'TDSB school looking to offer students fall break to reduce stress, let students regroup' TDSB school looking to offer students fall break to reduce stress, let students regroup
As Angie Seth reports, the concept is not new and involves students getting a week-long break at the end of November, but it also means students losing a week of their summer break – Jan 13, 2016

UPDATE: On Feb. 4, 2016, R.H. King Academy announced that parents/guardians, students and staff voted to support the new proposed calendar year which involves starting the school year one week early to accommodate a week-long break in November. The proposal now goes to the TDSB Trustees for approval on March 9 before it can be rubber stamped by the Ministry of Education.

The high school students at R. H. King Academy in Scarborough say they need a break.

Well there is the winter break during Christmas and of course spring break in March. But what these students are referring to is a fall break.

The concept is part of a modified school calendar that involves the school year starting a week or two earlier in exchange for a week long break at the end of November. R. H. King Academy in Scarborough is looking to adopt the new calendar.

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If they are able to get approval from the Ministry of Education, they will be the first Toronto school to offer students a break in the fall. The only caveat is it means the summer holiday is shorten.

“Summer is the biggest piece, people with summer cottages, the job situation and those are factors families will have to make decisions if it does go forward,” said David Rown, the principal at R. H. King Academy.

But according to students and staff the trade off is worth it because high school is very stressful and a break between September and December would really offer students a chance to regroup and de-stress.

“We get a lot of referrals for stress, anxiety, particularly at the school, it’s a very academic school so expectations are high,” said R. H. King guidance counsellor Jason Podur.

Grade 12 students say the break with give them the opportunity to focus on their academic future in terms of college and university education.

“I would get a bit of an upper hand on that instead of waiting the extra month to get those application in and get that stress out of the way so I can focus on my school work,” said Caitlin Branthwaite.

This is not the first time the modified school calendar has been suggested.

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Schools both in York and Durham Region have adopted the concept for a fall break for years. School officials there say it gives the school a good flow by allowing  the students to have a break from homework, and for those in grade 12, they have a week off to focus on University and College applications without the stressful demands of school.

Universities and Colleges also offer students a fall break to give them a breather before midterm exams.

On Thursday, R. H. King Academy will be voting on the proposed change in school schedule.

In order for it to move forward they will require a 60 percent approval – that number must comprise of 60 per cent teachers in favor of the idea, coupled with a 55 per cent yes vote from parents and students. If the proposal is approved it will then be to sent to the Toronto District School Board trustees for a review.

Once that is passed the proposal goes to the Ministry of Education for final approval.

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