Robert Moore to shift school hours next year

By Daniel Adam
Staff Writer
dadam@fortfrances.com

Starting this fall, Robert Moore School is changing their hours. This year’s school day runs from 8:55 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. Next year, classes will start at 8:30 a.m. and finish at 2:50 p.m.

While parents and staff have already been informed of the change, co-principals Char Bliss and Kerri Tolen felt the need to clarify the reasons behind the change. For starters, they were concerned about the length of their school day which Tolen said is the longest in the board.

“We live it every day, so we just really noticed a need to do something different,” she said. “Our kids are pretty tired by the third block.”

To optimize learning for the students, they started to look at other schools’ start and end times, comparing them to their own. From there, they decided to move forward with the change.

“Just like with anything we do, there’s a lot of care and consideration that goes into making these decisions, because they are big decisions, and that’s why there is a procedure for us to follow,” said Tolen. “And we really do feel that this shift is going to be helpful because the kids are fresh, and it’s a new day, and we’re just trying to optimize the amount of learning time we can get.”

Bliss said students are on the property “well before” 8:30, but don’t enter until 8:45 — 10 minutes before the starting bell. With the change, kids can come in almost immediately and start their day.

“They are really ready to go earlier,” she said.

Bliss said the schedule will continue to be a balanced day with a 40-minute nutrition break in the morning, and another in the afternoon. She said during COVID, there was also a five-minute transition time added which is no longer needed.

“I think there was some concerns that recess time was being taken away or shortened and it’s not,” she said. “We really know the importance of kids being outside and getting to burn off energy and play.”

Mentioning the many students who spend time participating in sports or attending open gym after the school day, Bliss said by the time they’d get home, sometimes it would be dark out.

“So this allows a little more daylight time,” she said. “Especially in the winter, so they’re not travelling in the dark.”

The other thing Bliss mentioned was the kindergarten students who often arrive home late. She said the school day ends at 3:20, but their bus usually doesn’t arrive for another 20-25 minutes after that.

“They’re three and four years old, some are five, but that’s a struggle for them,” said Bliss. “Our youngest learners were taken into consideration because they have that big wait time at the end of the day.”

The transportation schedule is also being updated with the school day shift. And since Robert Moore’s bussing affects Fort Frances High School, Bliss said they consulted with them as well.

She said they’ve also done a feasibility study to see what schedule would work best, and these new times were the top outcome. Tolen added that Crossroads and Mine Centre schools both run the same schedule.