Recess cut during job action

School District #83 students will return to class today to the news that they won’t have a recess break, but will be getting out of school 15 minutes early.

Due to job action by the BC Teachers Federation, teachers will be initiating phase one of strike action which includes withdrawing supervision duties.

School District #83 superintendent Glenn Borthistle says to ensure student safety without teacher supervision, the school district made a decision to  cancel recess for elementary and middle school students.

High school students do not have scheduled recess breaks and won’t be affected.

Students will be dismissed from class 15 minutes earlier and bus schedules will be adjusted accordingly.

All schools will continue to be open with regular classes operating during this phase of job action, and instruction will proceed as usual. Buses will be running their normal routes.

But BCTF President Jim Iker calls the move unnecessary.

“The vast majority of school districts across B.C. have not cancelled recess and those that have should reconsider. Principals, vice-principals and excluded staff are more than capable of supervising the playground for 15 minutes each day,” he said in a press release.

“The school districts that have cancelled recess have done so because it is inconvenient to Principals and management staff. They have not even tried to find coverage as per the order from the Labour Relations Board.”

He adds that the stage 1 job action is administrative in nature only.

“Any recess cancellations falls squarely on the shoulders of school districts unwilling to move their staff around. Furthermore, 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.”

Borthistle says school-based administrators will be assisted by district-based administration, management and staff to provide before- and after-school supervision.

“It is our information that teachers will continue to participate in voluntary extracurricular activities they are currently involved in,” he added.

As of press time, no School District #83 field trips or extracurricular activities had been cancelled or changed.

Negotiations between the BCTF and the government are continuing, and union representatives say a decision to move to phase two of the job action will depend on progress at the bargaining table.

Phase two would involve one-day rotating strikes throughout B.C. school districts, although the details of this plan have not been released.

Should the situation escalate to a point where a full walk out is being considered, another vote of the teachers union members would be necessary.


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