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Ottawa French Catholic school board forced to scrap four-day school week

École élémentaire catholique l’Étoile-de-l’Est in Orleans will be home to a four-day school week pilot project, starting in the fall. (Tyler Fleming/CTV News Ottawa) École élémentaire catholique l’Étoile-de-l’Est in Orleans will be home to a four-day school week pilot project, starting in the fall. (Tyler Fleming/CTV News Ottawa)
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Plans for a four-day school week have been expelled from two French Catholic schools in Ottawa.

The Ministry of Education declined a proposal from the Conseil des écoles catholiques du Centre-Est to pilot a shortened school week, starting in September.

In March, the CECCE announced plans for the four-day school week pilot-project, allowing parents to opt-in to a four-day school week at École élémentaire catholique l’Étoile-de-l’Est in Orleans and École élémentaire catholique Saint-Rémi in Kanata.

Under the plan, students enrolled in the four-day school week would begin classes one week earlier than students attending classes five days a week, and the school year would end three days later than the typical school year. Students would also attend school an additional 38 minutes a day compared to students attending classes five-days a week.

On Friday, the Ministry of Education announced it would not approve the four-day school week plan for the 2023-2024 school year.

“The Ministry of Education's position is that students should continue to learn in school for 5 days-a-week with a focus on improving reading, writing and math, and expanding mental health supports," a spokesperson for Education Minister Stephen Lecce said in a statement to CTV News Ottawa.

The minister's office notes the Education Act states the length of the instructional program for each school day of pupils of compulsory school age shall be no less than five hours a day.

In a letter to parents, CECCE director of education Marc Bertrand said there was "great interest" from staff and families of the two schools for a four-day school week.

Bertrand says the board will continue its efforts and discussions to "evolve the project" to obtain approval for a four-day school week for the 2024-25 school year.

"The administration remains convinced that this innovative project would be favorable to the well-being of many students and staff members and to the balance between the personal and academic life of many families while pursuing its mission of providing quality education, in French," Bertrand said.

"Moreover, the interest shown by a large number of parents who hoped to be able to enroll their child in the pilot project has shown us that this renewed schedule model meets the needs of many families in our school communities."

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