Whether students will return to classrooms next week remains unclear, but support staff have been working to ensure that schools can open without a hitch if a last-minute deal between teachers and the province is struck.
“We’d like to run our regular school opening day, and get students in and settled,” said Hugh Gloster, superintendent of the Central Okanagan School District.
“It’s a bit unusual this year because we now have picket lines forming. So some of what may have been happening on these days has been put off.”
Usually, registration takes place on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of the week before classes, but with teachers picketing outside the 43 schools in the region that process has been scuttled.
“When parents see the picket line, they may be uncomfortable to go in, and we understand that,” he said.
“So, we have online registration. Then when things are settled, parents can get back into school normally, and deal with the paperwork requirements.”
Gloster said parents have been calling in to as questions about issues arising from ongoing labour strife and they’re anxious.
“The parents we’re hearing from are phoning and wondering if they can get clear direction on when this will be resolved, and when kids can be back in class,” he said.
Of course, nobody has that answer just yet.
“We may be forced to open under a continuation of strike action,” said Gloster. “There could be 11th hour Hail Mary pass, but we’re running out of days pretty quick.”
B.C. Teachers’ Federation president Jim Iker spoke at an annual teacher training conference in Kamloops and called on the provincial government to enter into mediation immediately.
He promised that B.C. teachers would be out in “full force” this week to pressure the Liberal government, if not.
The Liberal government earlier announced, if the teachers’ strike continues into the fall, it will give parents with children aged 13 and under $40 a day for each day of school missed to cover the costs of child care.