As we prepare for a return to school we continue to be hopeful for a prompt resolution to the labour dispute between teachers and government. When an agreement is reached we look forward to re-engaging in our collective passions of learning, teaching and supporting children and families. That said, as we move into the long week weekend and toward the scheduled start of school it is clear that Tuesday, September 2 will not be the start of school that we had all hoped for. Our plan, therefore, will be as follows:
- Stay up to date on the issues in order to be ready to return to school as soon as possible;
- As soon as we know that teachers are returning to work (whether through a bargained/mediated agreement or other means), start with a "staff-only" day for all schools.
- Following that day, have students return to school for the partial days currently scheduled for September 2 plus, for secondary, September 3. Note that those first days for students would be the second day of school with the first day having been for staff to re-engage after a long time away.
To be clear by way of two examples: If a deal is reached over the long weekend, teachers will join support staff and administrators for a staff-only day on Tuesday, September 2, with Wednesday, September 3 being the first partial day for students, following the schedule advertised for September 2. If the school year starts with teachers on strike, and a deal is reached, for example, on September 8, teachers will join support staff and administrators for a staff-only day on Tuesday, September 9, with Wednesday, September 10 being the first partial day for students, following the schedule advertised for September 2.
The plan for a staff-only day followed by a partial day for students followed by a full return to classes may need to be amended, so please stay tuned for updates on how and when we will return to school. One way, for example, that the plan could be altered would be if a deal between government and the teachers lays out conditions for return and they are different from what is described here. As has been the case throughout this labour dispute, there continues to be a degree of uncertainty with which we have to be comfortable. As I've said before, we are ready for anything.
As we await news, I urge patience and optimism. I also urge parents and community members to engage in the issues by staying informed on the perspectives as being shared by the parties (BCPSEA and BCTF) on their websites and through the media, and doing what you can to encourage a fair and prompt resolution.
Dr. Keven Elder
Superintendent of Schools