School closing policy being considered by board

  • May. 29, 2009 7:00 p.m.

The school district is considering a new policy which will allow Sk’aadgaa Naay elementary to close for half a day in the event of a chief’s funeral. Superintendent Angus Wilson told trustees Tuesday night (May 26) that he drafted the policy in recognition of the fact that the death of a chief is a significant event for the Haida communities, and he wanted to bring clarity to how and when the school should be closed in this event. The proposed policy gives the school principal the option of closing the school for half a day for a chief’s funeral. Staff not attending the funeral would remain at school, and students unable to return home could stay at school and be supervised by staff. Trustee Sharon Matthews said the band council office and almost every other business in Skidegate closes automatically for a chief’s funeral and wondered why the decision should be left up to the school principal. Superintendent Wilson responded that there must be someone at the school making the decision, and that the policy makes it clear what should happen. Evelyn von Almassy, president of the Haida Gwaii Teachers’ Association, asked why other schools like Queen Charlotte Secondary were not included in the policy. While they are not located on a reserve, like Sk’aadgaa Naay, they do have significant numbers of Haida students and staff. School board chair Wayne Wilson responded that while all business in Skidegate stops for a funeral, the same does not happen in Queen Charlotte, so it wouldn’t be appropriate for that school to close unless the rest of the village changes. Students attending the funeral would stay away from school that day, he said. Trustees voted to send the proposed policy around to all stakeholder groups in the district and find out what they think about it.

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