There are rumblings of concern among parents in the Central Okanagan after the first week of school under B.C. teachers’ strike conditions.
Central Okanagan Parent Advisory Council president Liz Therres says she’s sent out emails to the parent advisory councils and COPAC reps. And while feedback was sparse, Therres says some parents are definitely questioning how good the strike really is for children.
“It’s just that everybody is feeling that the kids are kind of caught in the middle,” said Therres, noting her data is a bit limited as her first district-wide meeting to officially meet with parents will not be for another week.
While the B.C. Teachers’ Federation have consistently stated the job action they have undertaken is not meant to disrupt student learning, Therres said that from her vantage point, any job action will always be more disruptive than nothing at all.
Cancelling recess, for example, will be very hard on some students, particularly special needs students and those who have trouble coping with long periods of sitting still.
“(The kids) are in the classroom for a long time and they need to kind of run off some energy,” said Therres.
The Central Okanagan School District was the first in the province to cancel recess as a result of the job action saying the district’s staff simply couldn’t handle sliding away from their own jobs partway through the day to cover off teacher supervision duties without major losses on the administrative front.
Teachers province-wide have pulled all services beyond basic teaching until such time as a deal on a contract is reached, and as of press time Monday, the two sides were still at loggerheads.
Meanwhile, Hugh Gloster, the Central Okanagan School District superintendent, said the district has not seen much by way of complaint—in fact, it was just the opposite.
While one parent had complained about the new timetable—which eliminates a 15-minute recess in the afternoon but ensures teachers are still getting students out for a mandatory 30-minutes of activity in the morning—two parents had phoned to say they prefer the new timetable.
“I’m sure there’s a lot of other parents who have been waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak, to see how this plays out,” Gloster said.
“But so far it’s been very smooth.”
Altogether the superintendent said he is very impressed by all of the school district’s staff and teachers who managed to make the first week of school as normal as possible for students.