Williams Lake Secondary School will be returning to a semester system next year, although it will be slightly different than before.
The move, which will replace the quarterly system that was imposed during COVID-19, will see classes run on a four-block fixed semester system, which means they will be offered at the same time every day. The previous semester system was five rotating blocks.
The decision to return to a semester system came after School District 27 surveyed teachers and students to find out what worked and what didn’t with the quarterly system, which was adopted in 2020/2021 to limit the potential spread of COVID-19. The quarterly system meant the year was divided up into four chunks and while students had fewer subjects, their class times were up to three hours. The school district received a wide spectrum of responses from those who liked it and those who didn’t.
SD27 Supt. Chris van der Mark noted the semester system is a bit more forgiving compared to the longer classes in the quarterly system, where missing class time could quickly put students behind.
“If you missed a couple of days, it was like missing a week. If you missed a week it was like missing a month,” van der Mark said. “If you were sick for any length of time, it could be really difficult.”
Some students, however, enjoyed the fewer classes and the simplicity of the block system, with one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Shop classes especially benefited as students had more time to work on their projects. The new system also allowed teachers and students to get to know each other better. This closer relationship meant students felt more comfortable approaching teachers on a variety of issues, he noted.
Despite a return to the semester system at both LCSS and Peter Skene Ogden in 100 Mile House, van der Mark said staff at both schools are considering keeping some of the positive impacts of the quarterly system, such as online learning and finding ways to keep teachers and students together longer.
“The schedule is just a schedule,” van der Mark said. “There are flexibilities that schools can find depending on what they’re offering and the needs of their students. I think, and I hope, that exploring the quarter system validated that and gave schools the permission to explore some of those options.”