High school to remain closed for 17 days next year 

Parents want Olympic break reduced; PAC chair hopeful compromise can be reached

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"I think that what should happen is there should be a compromise and we at least get rid of those two extra days," said Jewett.

"(We should also) look at recapturing a couple of days in the week leading up to the Olympics. There is no reason that they need that full week off."

But school board chairman Dave Walden said it is very unlikely that the calendar for Whistler Secondary will be changed at this point.

"There was discussion on the board as to whether we should take it back to 15 days, but drawing up a calendar is very time consuming and takes a lot of effort," said Walden.

"...If we were to change that calendar we would have to go through this whole process again and it would be another four to six weeks (for a decision)... and we feel it is getting too close.

"We just feel it is too late."

He also pointed out that the board's decision to close the high school for three and a half weeks was based on its concern for the education of the students and not because of a potential deal with Olympic organizers.

The board is concerned that many students will be absent from school over the Games period so that teaching and learning will be compromised.

Many teachers agree said John Hall, president of the Howe Sound Teachers' Association.

"The greatest concern teachers have is disruption to learning and it seems ironic, I suppose, that we feel that closing would cause less disruption than being open," he said.

While some may argue that if a student misses class it is up to them to catch up, the reality, said Hall, is that teachers feel a great responsibility to makes sure students get all the education they need. If several different students are missing each day it becomes an impossible teaching situation for the educators.

"Teachers care and... they don't feel comfortable simply shutting the door," said Hall, adding that the decision to close for 17 instructional days also recognizes transportation issues staff may face as well as the desire by staff to take part in the Games.

And, while teachers are concerned about students in the community who are too young to volunteer at Games time and may find themselves at home alone for days on end as parents work, in the end educational concerns had to come first.

"We are part of the community there is no doubt about that, but at some point we do have to say, well, we do have to reflect our first priority (education)," he said.

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