Parents told North Okanagan-Shuswap schools may not open
The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District is urging parents to develop alternate plans if a labour dispute prevents classes from starting.
There is uncertainty over whether the new school season will begin Sept. 2 because the B.C. Teachers Federation and the Ministry of Education have been unable to hammer out a new contract.
“We had hoped everything would be settled and all of our 6,000 children would be back in school and learning Sept. 2. But the way things look right now we are having serious doubts that school will be back in session as planned," said Bobbi Johnson, school district chairperson.
The district is calling on both sides to return to the bargaining table and to establish a negotiated settlement that falls within the government's economic mandate and makes improvements to class size and composition.
A concern for the district is that it won't have sufficient time to prepare for classes to begin after a settlement is reached.
“We believe our district’s students have been most affected by this strike and we want them back in class and learning as quickly as we can," said Johnson.
Typically, she said, many teachers come in to schools over the summer to prepare materials and their classrooms for the new school year.
"This year, due to the ongoing strike, teachers have been advised by the BCTF to not participate in these usual preparations, although there has been no lockout of teachers by the employer during these summer months."
The North Okanagan-Shuswap School District includes Grindrod, Enderby, Armstrong and Falkland.