As rotating teacher strikes continue across the province this week, students in the Sea to Sky School District weighed their options.
A Facebook group set up for all students in the province advocated for a province-wide walkout on Wednesday, but in the end, student representatives in the Sea to Sky district decided on a different approach to voice their concerns.
Rather than walking out, students took time on Wednesday to express their thoughts and ideas through an "idea tree" — a 9x4 poster on which every student would have a chance to write. This will be sent on directly to education minister, Peter Fassbender, and the BC Teachers' Federation.
"We're looking for the government and the teachers to stop putting us in the middle, and stop putting us in jeopardy," explained Alexandra Mann, a Grade 12 student at Whistler Secondary and co-chair of the Sea to Sky District Student Council.
Students understand the concerns raised by teachers, Mann said, "but we're fighting for the fact that we're sick of being put in the middle."
Walking out during school hours would raise a whole host of liability and safety issues, Mann said, and would likely only amount to students falling further behind.
"We walked around to the classrooms today and explained the walkout to (students) and just touched base on what was going on with the teachers and the government," Mann said.
The decision to forego a walkout came out of a meeting between student representatives and the school board.
"We met (Tuesday) morning with executives from the District Student Council and the Aboriginal Youth Council and came to some conclusions about what an appropriate response would be," said Peter Jory, director of instruction with the Sea to Sky School District.
"It's basically an opportunity for students to walk in instead of walk out, and put their signatures and thoughts down in an organized manner."
The decision not to walk out, communicated to parents in letters sent home earlier this week, stems from the idea that missing more school-time than necessary would be counter-intuitive to the students' cause.
"They do feel quite frustrated, but many of them don't feel that being outside or being away from school is going to help the situation too much," Jory said.
While walking out might not be the best course of action, it's encouraging to see students speaking out, said Carl Walker, president of the Sea to Sky Teachers' Association.
"I think we're encouraged that students are exercising their democratic rights," Walker said.
"We would prefer that they stay in class, but we certainly respect their right to express their opinion on this matter."
Meanwhile, rotating teachers strikes continue across the province, returning to the Sea to Sky District on Friday, June 6.
There has been some confusion of late concerning which events and class trips have and have not been cancelled.
For up to date information contact your school directly, or visit the district's website at www.sd48seatosky.org.
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