Some parents are concerned following a recent announcement that students going into Grade 6 from some Halifax-area schools will be moved to junior high in the fall.
The Halifax Regional Centre for Education introduced changes to 19 HRM schools in their system, which will result in merging students from grades six to nine.
Among the affected elementary schools is Portland Estates Elementary, which is part of the Woodlawn High family of schools. Come fall, Grade 6 students there will be moved to Ellenvale Junior High.
Alishea Rose, the parent of a fifth-grade student from Portland Estates, said parents should have received more notice about this big of a transition for young students entering a mature environment.
“We’re also talking about going to school with 14- and 15-year-olds. There are languages that our kids are not used to being exposed to that are not ideal. There’s obviously peer pressure situations with drugs and alcohol, (as) we’re getting into junior high,” said Rose.
“It’s concerning for us as parents that there’s very little time to prep our kids for this.”
Parent Nicole Boutilier said she is worried about the social impacts the decision will have on her 10-year-old son, who is also expected to attend Ellenvale Junior High School in September.
“The social content between that gap of an age is significant. And yes, we’ve been hearing it’s only a year earlier … that year makes a significant impact,” said Boutilier.
Lindsey Bunin, the Halifax Regional Centre for Education’s communications officer, said the decision was made to address the growing number of students in HRM classrooms.
“This is based on capacity and our priority is creating safe and comfortable learning spaces for all of our students. And so, there are changes that need to be made to accommodate that,” said Bunin.
Both Rose and Boutilier said their concerns about bullying, support for kids with developmental challenges and other issues have been fueled by the lack of communication from the HRCE.
“I’m not sure what the rationale is for hiding behind voicemail, and form email communications, but I don’t understand why HRCE can’t meet with us,” said Rose.
“It’s very clear that there was no communication plan with a fast follow plan for the parents, as to how this was all going to take effect, how this is going to be a smooth transition for our children,” adds Boutilier.
The HRCE said they responding to concerns from parents as quickly as they can.
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