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Edmonton public, Catholic boards changing up high school schedules for 2020-21

Edmonton high schools switch to longer classes for 2020-21
High school students in Edmonton will return to longer classes in the fall. Both the public and catholic school boards announced Monday students will take two classes a day as part of a four-semester school year. Breanna Karstens-Smith explains.

The Edmonton Catholic and Edmonton Public school divisions announced Monday that next year, high schools will move to a quarterly schedule with fewer daily classes and double the diploma exam dates.

The move will allow high school students to take fewer subjects per quarter to help ease the transition, if schools have to pivot between scenarios during the year due to COVID-19, a joint news release said.

Read more: Edmonton Catholic Schools cancels year-round school calendar for 2020-21

It means instead of the typical four classes a day — two in the morning, two in the afternoon — students will instead only have up to one class in the morning and one in the afternoon.

In-person classes will be approximately 150 minutes long — or about two and a half hours — which the boards say is the same amount of instructional time as classes did in a two-semester schedule, just condensed into about 40 days.

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Diploma exams will be held November, January, April and June for each quarter.

“By moving to a quarterly schedule next year, it will allow our high schools to be nimble and adapt quickly if the situation with COVID-19 changes during the year,” Edmonton Public Schools superintendent Darrel Robertson said.

“Students can focus on fewer subjects at a time to make the transition to at-home learning easier, if needed.”

Read more: Hundreds of layoffs coming as Edmonton Public School Board approves budget changes

Most high schools throughout the city will offer a quarterly schedule except for J.H. Picard Catholic and Edmonton Public high schools that offer unique programming, such as K-12 schools or a specialized high school program.

“Edmonton Catholic Schools has been using the quarterly schedule for a few years at Cardinal Collins Catholic High School Academic Centre, and the students there have reported that quartermesters have worked extremely well for them,” Edmonton Catholic chief superintendent Robert Martin.

“Some of the benefits of the quarterly schedule is the ability to focus on fewer courses at one time and having a shorter exam break between quarters.”