Plans for educational student trips to destinations like Italy, Japan and Quebec are up in the air due to uncertainty surrounding teacher’s ongoing job action with the province.
North Okanagan-Shuswap trustees recently clarified that their approval for trips is contingent on teachers being willing to continue their participation and not being restricted by job action.
The board had previously given approval for the trips based on the understanding that the teachers making the request would oversee the organization of the trip, participate in the activities and be responsible for the safety of participants.
There is concern from trustees that potential escalating job action would prevent teachers from participating.
A planned Salmon Arm Secondary trip to France has already been put off until next year, as planning for the journey was still in the early stages and it was felt the potential impacts of job action could become an issue.
Trips that could also be impacted include the SAS trips to Italy and Inashiki, Japan; A.L. Fortune’s trip to France; Pleasant Valley Secondary’s trip to New York — all taking place over March spring break — and the Shuswap Middle School trip to Quebec in April.
Lynda Bennett, North Okanagan-Shuswap Teacher’s Association president, says the current phase-one level of job action would not prevent teachers’ participation in the extra-curricular trips, however, if the job action escalates, teachers province-wide will vote on what that job action would mean.
“I can’t say whether supervising trips would be a part of that or not. That is something that would have to be considered by the members.”
A move to a phase two or phase three of job action could result in teachers withdrawing all extra-curricular activities, and if that is the case, teachers scheduled to supervise the trips would no longer participate.
“The two sides in this dispute are not making a lot of movement, so we could be still in phase one, or we could move into another phase of job action. No one has a crystal ball,” says Bennett, who notes that teachers willingly take on these types of education trips on their own time and without financial compensation to enhance student learning and enjoyment.
“I do recognize the difficult position this is putting the teachers, parents and kids that have put money together for these sorts of trips.”
Contingency plans are now in the process of being developed in case job action does get to a point where the participation of teachers in these trips is excluded.
“Some boards in the province have cancelled all field trips. At this time, our board has not considered this action,” says Dave Witt, school district superintendant.