While some remained hopeful that a weekend bargaining session between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and government negotiators would stop escalating job action, a full-scale strike got underway in public schools Tuesday.
Negotiators for the BCTF and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association met until midnight Sunday, as the union moved from rotating strikes to a full walkout with a study session on Monday.
The two sides contradicted each other on the substance of the wage offers, and each said the next move is up to the other if a deal is to be reached.
However, both were expected to return to the bargaining table Tuesday afternoon.
On Friday, the B.C. Labour Relations Board had extended its essential services order to include provincial final exams, bussing for those students and marks for graduating students, so they can apply for post-secondary studies.
“Provincial exams are still occurring for all children in grades 10, 11 and 12,” said School District 27 superintendent Mark Thiessen. “These exams will be invigilated by school and district administrators. At this point we are also expecting to be marking some of those exams.”
Thiessen added that Grade 12 report cards will be mailed to students in the next few weeks.
As far as daytime programs go in Williams Lake, Scout Island Nature Centre has stepped up to fill the void for working parents during the strike by offering a special outdoor education program for children aged five to 13, from June 17-20 and June 23 and 24.
Parents can register their children for a full day at a cost of $15 or a half day for $7. Activities will include exploring, outdoor games, experimenting, writing, reading and art.
The nature centre can accommodate 20 intermediate children and 15 primary children daily, with help from five UBC teachers in training as well as regular summer staff.
Meanwhile over at the pool, the Cariboo Memorial Recreation Complex has put together a swim and cinema program every afternoon from 1 p.m. until 5 p.m. this week.
Children aged 7 and over can register for the program, which allows for a two-hour swim followed by a movie in the Gibraltar Room for $9.
According to Thiessen, School District 27 provides education to approximately 4,900 students in 25 schools in a district the size of New Brunswick.
The district’s three smallest schools have less than 20 students while the largest, Lake City Secondary, has 1,500 students spread over two campuses.
There are approximately 900 staff in SD 27 who are either on strike or not crossing picket lines.