Public school teachers began a three-day strike across B.C. on Monday morning, and were expected to return to work for Thursday and Friday.
While Education Minister George Abbott had announced that schools would be open and parents should drop off their children at school if there was no other option for supervision, not all school districts agreed.
In the Fraser Cascade district, parents were asked to keep their children home from school, although minimal supervision would have been available by administrators and support staff, who were still required to show up for work those days.
Superintendent Dr. Karen Nelson said the limited number of staff available would have made the supervision of large numbers of students very difficult.
“It’s a safety issue, for sure,” she said at the time.
But on Tuesday afternoon, Nelson said no parents had sent their children to school at that point.
“It’s very quiet,” she said. One student did write an exam, and a few students at alternate programs checked in to pick up work to complete at home.
While teachers weren’t legally allowed to form picket lines during the strike, they were allowed to form information lines. In the Fraser Cascade District, teachers assembled during regular drop-off hours. In Agassiz, a group from Kent elementary school gathered across the street from the A&W, since their school is tucked away. A larger group formed at Agassiz elementary school along Cheam Avenue.
Nelson said the strike has gone very smoothly, locally, on all accounts.
“Everyone’s been very cooperative,” she said.
Things did not go smoothly for the premier, however, who tried to visit an East Chilliwack private denominational school on Monday, and visited Hope.
Teachers, parents and students held a demonstration outside Park Street Manor in Hope, while Christy Clark visited residents inside.
Lynne Marvell, president of the Fraser Cascade Teachers’ Association, said she’s disappointed the premier did not make time to meet with local teachers.
“I requested an opportunity to speak with the premier to express the concerns of teachers in the Fraser-Cascade School District including the government’s lack of willingness to negotiate, the threat of a legislated contract, and the worsening learning and teaching conditions in our classrooms,” she said. “I don’t understand why the premier would not want to hear the concerns of her constituents.”
The Fraser-Cascade School District will go on a two-week spring break beginning next Monday.