As U.S. schools grapple with scheduling classes safely around the upcoming holiday season, some teachers are calling for the U.S. to follow its neighbours to the north and give extend the Christmas break to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
After Canadian Thanksgiving in October saw many families gather for dinner, COVID-19 cases in that country went up. That's why educators in Ontario are calling for that province's government to extend the winter break for schools.
The idea is that the break would act almost like a circuit breaker (a term for a pandemic lockdown that is easier on the economy and people's mental health than a full lockdown), preventing the spread of COVID-19 after the holidays.
That was the thinking of West Virginia governor Jim Justice, too. Last week he announced his state will extend the Thanksgiving vacation for schools by an additional three days, a kind of cushion in case parents couldn't always social distance during the holiday.
Would it work?
While many teachers are on board with the developing plans in Canada, many parents are freaking out.
Two weeks of extra school holidays means two weeks without childcare for many working families, and that is not going to be easy to do. The impact on kids is also a huge factor. It's why the Quebec Provincial Association of Teachers does not support extending the winter break, as it is concerned about the impact of more school closures on students.
Meanwhile in the U.S., more than a dozen states are strengthening various pandemic safety measures, even asking some people to stay home entirely. Many students in Waco, Texas are out of school until Thanksgiving due to COVID-19 outbreaks and parents around the country are debating the merits of just not sending kids back to school after the Thanksgiving holiday to allow for holiday gatherings.
As Education Week reports, school divisions in the United States don't have the authority to make parents quarantine their kids after they have Thanksgiving at a relative's house, or travel out of state, but strongly suggest that if families attend a big event or take a vacation that they do quarantine for two weeks before returning to class.