Class action

Job action greets students heading back to school

Ten-year-old Casey Carriere reads a book in the Carmi Elementary hallway while waiting for her mother this week. Schools in the district are back in session starting Tuesday.

Ten-year-old Casey Carriere reads a book in the Carmi Elementary hallway while waiting for her mother this week. Schools in the district are back in session starting Tuesday.

The start of the new school year next Tuesday is bringing with it a couple of major changes.

The first is going to be very visible. While this is always a good time for a reminder to keep an eye out for kids on the road, this year it is especially important as, along with all the regular Grade 1 to 12 students, kindergarten students will be being escorted to and from school at unusual times.

That’s because the province has expanded the full-day kindergarten program introduced at about half of B.C. schools last year.

“We had about 22,000 kids in full-day kindergarten last year,” said Education Minister George Abbott. “This year we will have 37,000 full-day kindergarten students in B.C.”

Abbott said that everything they have heard with respect to full-day kindergarten has been positive, something Wendy Hyer, superintendent for the Okanagan Skaha School District, agrees with.

“We’re excited by full-day kindergarten; it’s a gift of time for kids,” said Hyer. Initial anxiety from concerned parents was quelled, she said, once parents saw how much the children enjoyed the full day of play-centred learning.

While full-day kindergarten is mandatory, Hyer said they have some flexibility for youngsters that have trouble adapting.

“We do have the ability to work with individual parents if a particular student is having difficulty with a full day, with the goal of getting them to the point where they can attend a full day. We don’t want them missing what other kids are doing,” she said, citing the environment of emotional, social, physical and oral language development.

“Kids benefit from that. We don’t want to have kids not participating, but we certainly have some flexibility.”

While government, the school districts and teacher representatives all agree they are looking forward to the start of the school year, the province and the B.C. Teachers Federation have yet to reach a new collective agreement to replace the one that expired in April.

That, said Kevin Epp, president of the Okanagan Skaha Teachers Union, means teachers will be implementing phase one of their job action plan, refusing to attend meetings or perform administrative duties.

While the job action will cause challenges for administrators, one of them will not be keeping track of students since teachers have agreed to continue doing one administrative job, that of taking attendance.

“That’s a safety thing. We want to know whether children are in schools, especially at the elementary levels,” said Hyer. “If they are not in school and we haven’t received a phone call from parents, we phone to make sure they aren’t missing in action.”

Epp said the purpose of the limited job action is to get the attention of administrators and government negotiators, not to disrupt the schools for parents and students. Teachers, he said, will be focusing on instructing the students.

“I don’t know that parents will notice the job action,” he said, adding that may change if the negotiations continue to drag on. “Parents may notice that they don’t receive report cards. However, teachers are always able to discuss with parents how their children are doing. It’s just that the administrative tasks of grinding together through the report card process may not happen if the job action goes on long enough.”

“We continue to hope they will reach a collective agreement, but I can tell you, there is not a lot of optimism about the chances for an early agreement, Abbott said.

“There is no question in my mind that the net zero mandate that has now been applied to about three-quarters of the public servants in B.C. will now be extended to teachers,” he said. “We don’t have the dollars to deal with a wage increase for the teachers or anyone else at this point.”

Though the job action prohibits teachers from doing administrative duties, Epp said it is up to individual teachers to decide if they want to continue doing extra-curricular activities like coaching sports teams or working on theatre or music projects. These things, he said, are unpaid volunteer work by the teachers.


“It’s not part of the job, it’s something that teachers do because they love the job and love the kids,” said Epp, though he added that if the negotiations drag on, further job action might include asking the teachers to drop those activities as well.



Just Posted

(Pixabay photo)
Morning Start: Goosebumps helped scare off predators

Your morning start for Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Sue Birds captured this sunset photo that took place in between the rain and thunder Monday night, June 15, 2021. (Sue Birds)
Stormy sunsets over Okanagan Valley

Monday night had thunder, rain and stunning sunsets

Owner Daren McWhinney is really excited about the new location of Angry Vegan which just opened up at 536 Main Street. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton’s Main Street turns into foodie heaven

Angry Vegan, Wild Ginger, Twisted Chopsticks and Gratify recently opened

Penticton Overdose Prevention Society co-founders Desiree Franz, Shane Surowski and Stephanie Lines have created the city’s first unsanctioned public overdose prevention site using an old wine-tour bus. The site began operations in June 2021. (Desiree Franz/Facebook)
Volunteers launch Penticton’s first public supervised injection site

2021 is on pace to be the deadliest year for overdoses in Penticton on record

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club in Oliver will golf from sunrise to sunset to raise funds for ALS on June 29. (Submitted)
Golfing from sunrise to sunset in Oliver for ALS

Four golfers from Fairview Mountain Golf Club have taken up the challenge June 29

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

Ivy was thrown out of a moving vehicle in Kelowna. Her tail was severely injured and will be amputated. (BC SPCA)
Kitten thrown from moving vehicle, needs help: Kelowna SPCA

The seven-month-old kitten had severe tail and femur injuries

Vernon Elks Lodge secretary-treasurer Maureen Sather says special relief funding for the organization courtesy of Community Futures North Okanagan has been just that: a relief. (Photo submitted)
Zero funding for Vernon Elks club

Once-in-100-years grant denied after back and forth with city for support

Lyndsay Fillier and Braden Taylor have been living the van life for four years and they've detailed the first year of their adventures in a new book. (Twila Amato/Black Press Media)
VIDEO: Okanagan couple details first year of van life in new book

Lyndsay Fillier and Braden Taylor have been living the van life for four years

A young child was taken to hospital after being struck by a vehicle on 30th Avenue in Vernon Friday, June 11, 2021. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Child OK after being hit by car in Vernon

Father says daughter was back home by supper time

A health-care worker holds up a sign signalling she needs more COVID-19 vaccines at the ‘hockey hub’ mass vaccination facility at the CAA Centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Brampton, Ont., on Friday, June 4, 2021. This NHL-sized hockey rink is one of CanadaÕs largest vaccination centres. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘Vaxxed to the max’: Feds launch Ask an Expert campaign to encourage COVID shots

Survey shows that confidence in vaccines has risen this spring

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Inquest set into 2016 death of B.C. teen after a day spent in police custody

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure in hospital after spending time in jail cell

Children’s shoes and flowers are shown after being placed outside the Ontario legislature in Toronto on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario commits $10 million to investigate burial sites at residential schools

Truth and Reconciliation Commission identified 12 locations of unmarked burial sites in Ontario

Two hundred and fifteen lights are placed on the lawn outside the Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., Saturday, June, 13, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former Kamloops Indian Residential School earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Days after Kamloops remains discovery, Tk’emlups families gather to unite, move ahead

‘We have to work together because this is going to be setting a precedent for the rest of the country’

Most Read