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Province to add an hour to the school day for young students

Next fall, students in New Brunswick will be sticking around school for an extra hour. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)
Next fall, students in New Brunswick will be sticking around school for an extra hour. (Ben Nelms/CBC - image credit)

Beginning in September, New Brunswick students in kindergarten to Grade 2 will get out of school one hour later than they do now.

The news was communicated to districts in a letter from deputy education minister Ryan Donaghy.

In the letter, he said the increase in instructional time will bring the younger students to the same dismissal time as students in grades 3 to 8.

The Department of Education did not let CBC News interview Donaghy or Education Minister Bill Hogan but sent a statement touching in a general way on what it hopes to accomplish with the change.

"Adding an extra hour of learning time for this age group will allow greater flexibility to meet students' needs and interests; allow more time to deepen and consolidate their learning, and allow them to engage in meaningful and rewarding learning experiences every day," spokesperson Judy Désalliers said in the email.

David McTimoney, the superintendent of the Anglophone West School District, said in an interview that the change is related to the signing of the collective agreement between the province and the New Brunswick Teachers' Federation.

The federation could not make someone available for an interview.

Anglophone West School District superintendent David McTimoney said he has heard from some teachers and staff who had concerns about the requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to testing three times a week. 
Anglophone West School District superintendent David McTimoney said he has heard from some teachers and staff who had concerns about the requirement that they be vaccinated against COVID-19 or submit to testing three times a week.

Anglophone West School District superintendent David McTimoney says the change comes after a new collective agreement with teachers. (CBC News file photo)

McTimoney said the districts have now started communicating with parents about the longer school day.

But for some schools in the district, this change is not new. Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, 17 schools across the province entered into a research project implementing the additional hour, according to the statement from the Department of Education. Schools not in the project carried on with a school day that lasted fewer than six hours, including time for lunch and recess.

The research project, said Désalliers, was in collaboration with Centre de recherche en éducation at the Université de Moncton and the New Brunswick Institute for Research, Data and Training at the University of New Brunswick.

Research was halted after two years because of the pandemic, she said, but initial results showed that adding the extra hour of instruction was "beneficial for student learning and well-being."

McTimoney said the extra time at the schools in the Anglophone West district allowed for an additional focus on literacy and numeracy and outdoor learning and made way for one-on-one time or time between teachers and students in small groups.

The other anglophone school districts did not provide an interview.

NDP Leader Dominic Cardy wants a judge to review whether separate school busing systems for English and French systems is a Constitutional requirement in New Brunswick.
NDP Leader Dominic Cardy wants a judge to review whether separate school busing systems for English and French systems is a Constitutional requirement in New Brunswick.

Some schools in New Brunswick experimented with the additional hour back in the 2017-2018 school year. (CBC)

In an earlier interview in French with Radio-Canada, Chantal Varin, the general director of the New Brunswick francophone parents association, said she knew of some parents who were concerned about how the additional hours will be used.

She said those parents would like to see the time spent on physical education or art classes.

Varin said while some parents are happy with the news of the longer day, others said their children are already tired by the end of the current school day.

McTimoney said most of the work when it comes to sorting out scheduling and transportation changes has aready been completed. He said those changes have been communicated with schools, and the district is just waiting for feedback from the principals.

Once that has happened, he said, parents will be informed of what changes might occur with busing or scheduling.

Anglophone West has been dealing with a shortage of bus drivers, and McTimoney said he thought the additional hour in the day might keep the shortage from entering "severe" territory.

In January, the district's transportation manager said that on an average day, 35 to 40 out of its 254 bus drivers are unable to come to work.

The following schools participated in the research study on the additional hour, according to the government statement.

Anglophone West

  • McAdam Avenue School

  • Meduxnekeag Consolidated School

  • Chipman Elementary School

Anglophone East

  • Riverside Consolidated School

  • Shediac Cape School

Anglophone North

  • King Street Elementary School

  • Napan Elementary School

Anglophone South

  • Glen Falls School

  • St. George Elementary School

  • St. John the Baptist/King Edward School

Francophone Northwest

  • École Mgr-Matthieu-Mazerolle

  • École Régionale-de-Saint-André

Francophone Northeast

  • École L'Escale-des-Jeunes

  • École L'Étincelle

Francophone South

  • École Mgr-Marcel-François-Richard

  • École Soleil Levant

  • École Les Éclaireurs