Teachers’ job action hits schools in Parksville Qualicum Beach

This is one of a limited number of school districts in B.C. where administration has decided to cancel recess

Teachers started job action across the province last week, but the initial impact will be limited.

“This job action, in stage one is different from past job actions in that there is no direction to teachers not to do extracurricular activities,” said School District 69 Superintendent Rollie Koop.

That said this is one of a limited number of districts cancelling recess.

“The same as the last two job actions we have cancelled recess at the middle and elementary schools,” Koop said, based on safety questions.

“We touched base with all the principals and vice principals to see if they and the other exempt staff could cover and we didn’t feel they could cover it safely.”

The district is encouraging schools to squeeze in nutritional and exercise breaks when they can and Koop said he has still seen lots of student activity out in the school yards.

B.C. Teachers’ Federation President Jim Iker said in a April 23 news release that the cancelation of recess in about 12 districts is “unnecessary and inappropriate,” pointing to a Labour Relations Board order that states: “With respect to any before/after school, recess or noon hour supervision normally provided by teachers… supervision will continue to be provided by teachers subject to the employer utilizing management and excluded staff to the best extent possible to replace teachers for these activities.”

He said the stage one job action “is administrative in nature only and teachers will continue to do previously scheduled voluntary activities. As such, there is no reason for any districts to cancel events, trips, or extra-curricular activities.”

During stage one teachers will not attend meetings called by principals or vice-principals, but they will continue to count attendance and communicate with parents.

As a result of the cancelled recess, schools are shortening their days and busses are running 15 minutes earlier than regularly scheduled at the end of the day.

The employer and teacher representatives are continuing to negotiate at the provincial level.

Koop said they “recognize this is a provincial issue and try to not have it impact the local district too much.”