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Frequently Asked Questions

Grande Prairie Public School Division develops an annual calendar that strives to meet the needs of our students, parents, staff and adheres to legislative requirements. Below are the considerations that are balanced to develop a calendar as well as some Frequently Asked Questions that may help answer some questions we hear regularly. If you have more questions, please email us at info@gppsd.ab.ca

Factors influencing school year calendar development

The following considerations guide the calendar development process:

  • Provincial legislation that establishes required hours of instruction, teacher assignable time, etc.
  • Collective agreements with employees
  • Federal and Provincial statutory holidays
  • Provincial Achievement Test and Diploma Exam schedules
  • School Division factors such as shared transportation, Professional Learning time
  • Alignment of key dates, such as the start of school, Christmas and Spring breaks, with other local divisions
  • Other factors as relevant each year, such as the City of Grande Prairie hosting the 2024 Alberta Winter Games

Frequently Asked Questions

A few factors influence when we begin the school year:

  • The required number of student instructional hours;
  • The required balance between the number of instructional days in first and second semesters for our high schools;
  • The province sets the schedule for Diploma Exams and Provincial Achievement Tests, the Division needs to adhere to this schedule.

Professional learning exists to ensure students' experience optimum learning. Professional Learning days are dedicated to whole school improvement planning and to teacher and staff professional growth with a focus on enhancing the quality of instruction experienced by all learners. 

GPPSD works with the other two divisions within the city to ensure the breaks are consistent among the local divisions. In surveys of parents and staff, the majority of respondents indicated a preference for a Christmas Break structure that results in more days after Christmas than more days before Christmas. The division also structures the Christmas Break to ensure that three weekends occur within the break to support families, a consideration that would not be present if Christmas Break were to start and end mid-week.

The province has given Divisions the autonomy to determine when breaks are scheduled. GPPSD works with the other two divisions within the city/ county to ensure the breaks are consistent among them.  There is not a uniform practice in the Province that can be followed.

Having a combined Spring break that includes Easter has the least impact on the calendar, especially the elements of when school begins, when Christmas break is scheduled and when school ends. 

Additionally, the three Grande Prairie Divisions share a practice that if Easter is prior to April 15, the break will include Good Friday.  If Easter is after April 15, the break will be the last week of March, then Easter Weekend will be recognized separately.

The calendar is structured to ensure that students receive the appropriate number of hours of instruction required. To accommodate the different elements required to create a calendar, it sometimes requires the school year to end later in June. Additionally, the province often sets the last provincial exam date at the end of the month making it necessary for schools to be open with staff to administer those exams.

Not necessarily. The importance of balancing legislated and local calendar requirements means that any major structural changes must be developed through extensive consultation with parents, division staff and other local school divisions to ensure the school year calendar presented to the Board of Trustees for approval contains all of the required elements.  During each calendar development cycle, several versions of a calendar will be developed with only the version meeting all requirements being presented for consideration.

GPPSD diligently works collaboratively with parents, students, staff, other city divisions and our greater community. Each year, school principals will share the draft calendar with School Councils and staff to collect feedback. The Board also has the draft calendar prior to final approval. By completing the yearly Division Assurance Survey, your feedback on the calendar is collected.