News

Teachers' job action cancels recess

An empty playground at Isabella Dicken Elementary School on Monday, April 28. - A. MacDonald
An empty playground at Isabella Dicken Elementary School on Monday, April 28.
— image credit: A. MacDonald

By Adam MacDonald

Contributor

As of April 23, teachers across B.C. have begun low level stage one job action in response to a year long stalemate in negotiations with the provincial government. Teachers will no longer be supervising students outside the classroom or communicating in writing with administrators, action that was not intended to affect students. However, this prompted several districts across B.C., including School District 5 (SD5), to cancel recess.

In a letter sent home with students on Monday, SD5 Superintendent Lynn Hauptman wrote, “After careful consideration of our available resources and wanting to ensure student safety given the increased supervision at schools and limited exempt staff capacity, we have decided to cancel recess and shorten the school day by 15 minutes in all of our elementary schools.”

“Cancelling recess is a tactic by the government to turn public opinion against teachers,” said Fernie Secondary teacher David Pasivirta. “The last time we went on strike, admins were able to supervise recess and it allowed the students their break. Now, under similar circumstances, district staff have decided they are not able to provide a recess break for the students.

“This reflects poorly on teachers because they say it is due to the strike. Taking recess away seems like an effective strategy to me,” he added.

The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) is urging school districts to reconsider their recess cancellations, calling it an “unnecessary and inappropriate step.”

“The decision was made in the best interest of staff,” said Frank Lento, chair of SD5’s Board of Trustees. “Teachers are too valuable for us to make a political move like that. It is the furthest thing from our minds. The board is hoping to revisit the decision in the near future.”

“Principals, vice-principals, and excluded staff are more than capable of supervising the playground for 15 minutes each day,” said BCTF President Jim Iker in a press release last Wednesday. “Teachers’ stage one job action is administrative in nature only. Any recess cancellations fall 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.”

Earlier this year, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled that the government’s passing of legislation to wipe out class size restrictions was unconstitutional, and concluded that the government tried to provoke a strike. Since then, the provincial government has successfully applied to have the ruling put on hold until an appeal is heard, with Education Minister Peter Fassbender saying the court ruling was not affordable for taxpayers. A recent radio ad, published by the BCTF, highlights this financial tension, reporting “cuts to programs, teachers, and support for students with special needs, all because per student funding is $1,000 below the national average.”

“It is unclear where things are going,” said Lento, “If there is some movement on the government’s side, we will likely see de-escalation, so that’s what we are hoping for.”

 

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.

You might like ...

Amrik Virk advised Kwantlen on secret executive bonus
 
Flu vaccine less effective against mutant strain
 
Finning employees make large donation to United Way
Christmas store opens in the Elk Valley
 
There’s no turning back for Warren Miller film
 
Nelson knotweed problem mapped
Friday is Jersey Day in Nelson
 
New rules coming for local election spending
 
Southeast district police honored as members of “Alexa’s Team”

Community Events, November 2014

Add an Event

Read the latest eEdition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Nov 20 edition online now. Browse the archives.