Okanagan teachers joined their counterparts across the province on the picket lines on day one of a full blown strike.
“The mood is good, solid from yesterday, pleased about camaraderie,” says Susan Bauhart.
Bauhart is the president of the Central Okanagan Teacher’s Association.
The teacher’s union and Government negotiators are still meeting but with only a week and a half left in the school year, time is quickly running out for a resolution.
Both sides however, say they remain optimistic.
“Is it realistic? I have to say yes. I have to say yes. We don’t want to enter summer and September without a deal,” says Bauhart.
With provincial exams getting underway tomorrow, school districts across BC including Central Okanagan are now scrambling to put contingency plans in place to allow students to write those exams.
With teachers on the picket lines, principals and vice principals are being put into place to invigilate.
“We are ready for 9 a.m. tomorrow to welcome those students. We have been told there will be a picket free entrance for them to go into the schools, administrators will greet them there and get them through their exams,” says school superintendent Hugh Gloster.
There’s also the issue of marking the exams.
“After that of course we will be looking at plans around how we mark those exams and how those marks are assembled for report cards,” says Gloster.
While instruction time for high school students would now be over, for middle and elementary school kids, the rotating job action combined with the full blown strike means a loss of about three weeks of class time.
While Gloster says that is significant, he says fortunately the most important parts of the curriculum have already been taught.
“Obviously teachers try and make arrangements in terms of what they are covering in their courses to ensure they are hitting big ideas, key concepts and key learning outcomes,” says Gloster.