Holiday a missed opportunity for learning: DPAC representative

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A representative of a Vancouver Island parent advisory council says he wished more planning would have been involved in declaring Monday a day of mourning.

Shawn Thir of the Comox Valley School District’s parent advisory council says along with the day off being unexpected, the closure of schools means many young kids might not learn about the Queen and her history.

Thir references differences between the public school district and private schools that take different approaches.

“I think we kinda lost an opportunity here. Keeping the schools open that day, on the Queen’s funeral, would have been a prime opportunity to learn about her life and her role in Canada,” said Thir. “It’s an essential service, and it’s even more essential now that the ministry is not just the ministry of education, it’s now the ministry of education and childcare.

“So it’s unfortunate this decision was made without any consultation or forethought as to the implications of a two-tiered holiday like this.”

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Thir also says the unexpected holiday presents more challenges for parents, especially those with children and who work in the private sector.

“The parents are probably looking for babysitters, or failing that, they’ll have to take the day off either paid or unpaid,” he said. “Some shops and services, because these parents are now staying at home, they might have to reduce their hours that day or maybe even just close anyway.”

Some daycare centres may still be open, according to Thir. While an option could have been to open a school gym for care, the holiday was announced on such short notice that a plan could not be made.

“We thought about it, and ultimately it was unworkable because while I could open the gym there’s just too many variables in play,” said Thir. “I wouldn’t know how many kids would show up, I wouldn’t know how many staff I would need then and on top of that I need to have a program put together pretty quickly to take care of the kids pretty much all day.

“The parents are kinda stuck.”

While the day of mourning is a 2022-only holiday, Thir feels if another day like this comes in the future it should be declared a national holiday, rather than a choice.

“It’s one day, we’ll get through it.”

The day of mourning will take place on Sept. 19. The federal government announced the holiday for employees of the federal government only and left it up to federally regulated businesses and the provinces to decide if they would follow suit.

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