Some Nanaimo students cutting class to study

Some students are staying home instead of attending classes this week despite the district's decision to hold regular classes during exam week.

Tali Campbell, a John Barsby Secondary School student and one of the organizers of the student-led campaign to restore exam week free of regular classes, said students are encouraged to stay home – with parental permission – if they want to study for exams, which take place this week.

"I don't want people staying home just to sleep in or party," the Grade 11 student said. "If you're not going to study, I would just go to class."

In the past, classes were cancelled for the week and students only went to school to write exams. Students argue that this time off is necessary so that they can focus on their studies and prepare for the next semester.

The Nanaimo District Teachers' Association told the News Bulletin that teachers use the week to mark, help students prepare for exams and prepare themselves for the next semester.

Students attempted to get the decision reversed by staging a protest outside school district headquarters last month and presenting their views to the school board.

After that failed, the next step was involving parents by getting them to sign forms created by campaign organizers, which ask schools to excuse their child from classes.

Campbell said he's spoken to dozens of parents who are allowing their children to remain at home, provided they are studying, including his own mother.

"I know a lot of parents have said, 'We've already called the school,'" said Campbell.

Donna Reimer, school district spokeswoman, said she doesn't have any official numbers, but school administrators are telling her that more than the normal number of students are away from classes.

Administrators are also telling her that students who are in class benefit from the extra time to complete course work, she added.

The change was prompted by the Ministry of Education's decision to eliminate most provincially mandated exams for senior students, leaving just five provincials over the course of three years: three in Grade 10, one in Grade 11 and one in Grade 12.

The district says students would be better served by staying in class, since there are fewer provincial exams to write.

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