Dozens of students walked out of Agassiz elementary secondary school on Friday, a 2 p.m. The walk-out was part of a province action by students, who used the internet to rally together for the wide-scale demonstration.
Some older students immediately left school grounds, honking and yelling “support our teachers” as they drove away. Many others remained on school grounds, standing in the pouring rain outside the school’s front entrance.
Grade 10 student Devon Armstrong said crowded classrooms can take away from a better learning experience.
“Every single classroom is cramped,” he said, at about 30 kids per class by his estimate. He also wishes there was more support for students with learning disabilities.
He said he’s in support of the teacher’s impending strike, which will run next Monday to Wednesday in the absence of weekend negotiations between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government.
While many of the students said they were told they risked suspension if they left school grounds, others questioned whether the entire student population could be suspended.
“Well,” Armstrong said. “No good deed goes unpunished.”
He said he’ll spend the three strike days helping out his family around the house.
Several students said they had made signs in advance of the walkout, but they didn’t have the signs with them.
News of a province-wide student walkout spread earlier this week via Facebook and the media. Students across Chilliwack also walked out, and even formed groups around town to band together and gain support.
On Monday after school, many of the teachers had demonstrated in a similar fashion on the sidewalk in front of AESS, during a province-wide day of action planned by the BCTF.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Nelson said that while administrators and support staff will report to work, and that Fraser Cascade schools will remain open, parents are strongly urged to keep their children home throughout the strike. She said the number of staff available will make the supervision of large numbers of students very difficult.
“It’s a safety issue, for sure,” she said.