Recess should not be cancelled during teachers’ job action: BCTF

VANCOUVER – Ten school districts in B.C., including Prince George and the Central Okanagan, have cancelled recess in response to stage one of the teachers’ job action.

Limited job action began on Wednesday after bargaining talks broke down between the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and the provincial government.

Stage one of job action affects administrative duties only, but for some it has also affected students’ recess. The BCTF said those districts that have cancelled recess should reconsider and principals, vice-principals and excluded staff are more than capable of supervising the playground during recess.

Supervision was one of the issues addressed at the Labour Relations Board between the BC Public School Employers’ Association and the BCTF. The subsequent Labour Relations Board order states:

“With respect to any before/after school, recess or noon hour supervision normally provided by teachers, before/after school supervision related only to bus drop off and pick-up, and recess and noon hour supervision will continue to be provided by teachers subject to the Employer utilizing management and excluded staff to the best extent possible to replace teachers for these activities.”

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BCTF president Jim Iker said schools should be utilizing every person that they have to make sure the children remain as unaffected by the job action as possible.

“The idea that it’s inconvenient or maybe increases some of the workload, I think it’s really good for them to be out with students on the playground too,” he said.

“We ask them to reconsider that decision.”

Iker added that part of stage 1 of job action is to put pressure on administration.

During Stage 1 job action teachers will not:

  • Undertake any mandated supervision of students outside of regularly scheduled classes, except as set out by an essential services order.
  • Attend any meetings with management other than meetings of the worksite Joint Health and Safety Committee.
  • Provide principals or administrators with any routine printed, written, or electronic communication.
  • Receive any printed, written, or electronic communication from an administrator.
  • Be at a worksite prior to one hour before commencement of instructional time and one hour after the end of instructional time, other than for pre-arranged voluntary activities.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender said he is hopeful that the bargaining talks between the two sides continue and that there is no need for further job action.

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