After nearly three years of learning disrupted by the pandemic, parents might feel like there are more PA days for elementary-aged students than usual this year. But across Canada, the number of PA days has not increased - still, the timing of these days can be challenging for parents juggling work schedules and finding childcare.
What are PA Days?
Students get a number of days off for what are called professional activity days, professional development days, or pedagogical days. Whatever they’re called, they all serve a similar purpose, which is to give teachers time to focus on non-teaching duties such as writing report cards, additional training or planning.
Generally, provinces and school boards determine the number of PA days per year, which range from two days in New Brunswick to 19 days at in some Quebec school boards. Some of these PA days occur when the regular school year is out of session, so students will have fewer days off.
PA Day challenges for parents
While students might rejoice at the idea of another day off, it can be complicated for parents who need to arrange childcare or move around work schedules. And for many parents, the thought of having to find accommodations for young children recalls the dread of online learning during the pandemic. On PA days, community centres, YMCAs and local businesses often offer special PA day camps to help parents make alternative plans.
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This school year has been particularly challenging for Ontario parents. In November, early childhood educators, caretakers and other support staff walked out over a labour dispute with the province, causing some school boards to close schools or implement asynchronous learning.
There’s also the challenge of some PA days leading to greater truancy as the school year ends. For example, in Ontario, elementary school teachers will use the June 2 PA day to write report cards, leading some students to believe that assignments and tests after that date will not count towards their final marks.
Number of PA Days by province
Number of PA days in 2022-23: Seven
In Ontario, the Ministry of Education requires a minimum of three PA days and allows a maximum of seven. Typically, school boards - including the Toronto District School Board, Peel District School Board and the Ottawa-Carleton School Board - have seven days.
Number of pedagogical days in 2022-23: Ranges from 15 to 19
Quebec students get the most days off in the country. Called pedagogical days, or ped days, students will get off between seven and 12 days, depending on which school board they’re in. Students in the Lester B. Pearson School Board will have a total of 19 ped days. However, seven of those days occur when school is not in session, which means they’re tacked on before and after students start the year.
Number of pro-D days in 2022-23: Typically six
Individual school boards set the number of professional development days – commonly called pro-D days in B.C. – but usually the boards schedule a total of six and the timing can vary.
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Ranges from five to 13
In Alberta, the number of PD days varies by school board. Students in Edmonton will get eight PD days while students in Calgary get 12 PD days, four of which fall outside of the regular school year.
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Ranges from two to four
Schools are allowed a maximum of eight days for “organizational and/or administrative purposes,” according to the Nova Scotia Department of Education, but the number of days school boards schedule varies. For example, Halifax students get four full PD days and an additional four half-PD-days for parent-teacher interviews, while in Cape Breton, students get two full days off and two half-days.
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Nine
Manitoba has nine administrative and professional development days, two of which fall outside of the regular school year, which means students get a total of seven days off.
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Ranges from three to 15 days
Some teachers in Saskatchewan get more professional learning days than most in the country, while others get some of the fewest. In the Sun West School Division, teachers get 15 days, but seven of those are scheduled outside of the school year, so students get a total of eight days off. Meanwhile in Chinook School Division, there are three professional learning days.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Seven
According to the Newfoundland and Labrador Teachers’ Association collective agreement, teachers get seven days during the school year for report card writing, administrative purposes and professional development.
Prince Edward Island
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Six full days
There are six professional learning days this year in PEI, but one of them is scheduled outside of the regular school year.
Number of PD days in 2022-23: Two days
In New Brunswick, students get two full days off plus a handful of half-days, depending on the school district. For example, the Anglophone South School District has two PD days this school year, while students in the Anglophone West School District have two full days and four half-days.
With reports from Yang Sun