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NFSB to produce a catch-up plan for students

The New Frontiers School Board is reacting positively to a $300 million catch-up plan announced by the Quebec Education Ministry on January 9.

The Education minister, Bernard Drainville, confirmed Tuesday morning that the government will not cancel March break, and the school year will not be extended to make up for time lost during public sector strikes last November and December.

Instead, Drainville outlined plans to help balance things between those who missed 23 days of school, those who lost nine days, and students in the private system who did not miss any classes. The plans include voluntary tutoring during school hours, support outside of school hours, free summer school, funds for community groups that provide homework programs or literacy aids, and help during spring break.

The plan also resorts to several measures that were put in place during the pandemic to limit the impact of absenteeism on final grades. End-of-year exams will be delayed by a few days and the weight of these assessments will be diminished. Students, especially those in secondary four and five, will only be tested on essential learnings in each subject.

There is also an option for school service centres and boards to delay the preparation of March report cards to the end of the month.

“We need to do everything that we can to help the students to catch up and overcome the delays in the teaching and learning that they have suffered due to the strike,” said Drainville, who suggested there are ways to “make it almost a normal year.”

Drainville added he was very confident that there will be a “great mobilization” within the school networks between administration, teachers, support staff, and parents to work together to help their students.

“We are pleased that the government will be providing us with funding to support a plan,” said NFSB director general Michael Helm, who noted he is especially content that the ministry is allowing school boards and service centres the flexibility to develop plans to suit the needs of their students.

“This is indeed an unfortunate situation we all find ourselves in – especially for our students,” said Helm. He added that the government’s modifications to the weighting of final exams, the focus of final evaluations, and the possibility to extend the second term will be helpful.

The NFSB will be meeting with the directorate as a whole on Wednesday to begin the planning process. Helm explained the goal is to quickly establish a rough draft that will then be used to consult with different stakeholders and partners before finalizing the approach to the remainder of the school year.

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