RMOW and WB to offer programming to pre-teen kids during teachers strike 

School district requests that parents do not bring kids to schools during strike

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JOERN ROHDE WPNN.ORG - SCHOOLS OUT Whistler teachers march last week to raise awareness around their ongoing labour dispute with the province.
  • Photo by Joern Rohde WPNN.org
  • SCHOOLS OUT Whistler teachers march last week to raise awareness around their ongoing labour dispute with the province.

Both the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Whistler Blackcomb are putting programs in place to help parents of pre-teens affected by the teacher's strike set to take place on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. The District of Squamish Recreation Services is also offering special programming while teachers are off the job.

Meanwhile the school district has asked that parents make arrangements to look after kids at home and not bring them to schools, despite comments from B.C.'s Minister of Education, George Abbott, which suggested that schools will be open and administrative staff able to supervise kids.

Said Sea to Sky school superintendent Lisa McCullough: "While school facilities will remain open under the direction of school district administrative staff, we will be unable to provide students with instruction or guarantee appropriate levels of supervision during these three days.

"It is, therefore, strongly recommended that parents keep their children at home or make alternate arrangements for them for the three days. Obviously, if any children do show up, we will ensure they are kept safe."

The RMOW will offer two programs for kids. For those in Grades 1 through 6 parents can sign up for Kids on the Go (KOTG), which will start at 8:30 a.m. and go until 5:30 p.m. at a cost of $45. The second option is for kids currently in kindergarten — Kinder Dayz. It will operate for the same hours and also cost $45.

Each option includes a full day of supervised activities to keep children occupied. During the day, children will participate in a variety of activities, which will include going on an outing, doing arts and crafts, playing games, cooking and more. Outings will include: Skating (Monday), Tobogganing (Tuesday) and Swimming (Wednesday).

To register, please call 604-935-PLAY (7529). There will be 24 spaces available per day. Please allow 15-20 minutes upon first visit to fill out the program information forms (emergency contact information, care card number, immunization information and any allergies/medical concerns).

The RMOW will continue to offer all programs regularly scheduled at the community schools. So far, there have been no cancellations but the RMOW will continue to provide updates as they become available.

Whistler Blackcomb will offer programming for all kids living in the corridor aged five to 12-years-old.

From Monday March 5 to Wednesday March 7, Snow School will offer ski and snowboard lessons through Creekside, Whistler Village, and Blackcomb base locations, with drop off between 8:15 a.m. and 8:30 a.m., and pick up at 3:30 p.m. Lessons must be booked in advance through the Whistler Blackcomb reservations department at 1-800-766-0449. Bookings can be made as of Friday afternoon. The cost each day is $49 plus tax, and includes lunch. Rentals will be an additional charge.

No word yet on what programs may be available for Whistler Secondary students or youth at risk.

Parents in Squamish have the option of enrolling students in extra day camps for school age kids similar to the Pro D day programs offered in Squamish. The camps will be open from 8:45 a.m. until 4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday. The cost is $42 a day. Call Brennan Park at 604-898-3604 or visit the recreation centre to register.

The Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is closed on Mondays, but on Tuesday families can come by donation and take part in the blessing of two new installations to the Centre. On Wednesday the Centre will hold an all-day camp for children six to 12-years-old ($48) where they can learn about aboriginal culture, participate in craft activities and eat traditional foods. Contact carl.wallace@slcc.ca for more information.

Reported earlier:

Sea to Sky teachers will be off the job Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday after province-wide voting came down in favour of strike action by the B.C. Teachers Federation.

Teachers voted 87 per cent across B.C. in favour of increasing pressure on the provincial government in the contract dispute between the two sides after the provincial government tabled legislation that will extend the expired teacher contract and bring a mediator into the labour dispute. In all, 32,209 teachers voted, (75 per cent of teachers) of whom 27,946 said “yes."

At this time Sea to Sky schools "will be closed for students," said a press release from school superintendent Lisa McCullough. There will be no bus transportation. Administrative staff will be at each school site to oversee any emergent issues only.

"Under this Labour Relations Board ruling, there should not be picket lines, therefore, all other programs taking place on school sites (StrongStart, Pre-School, Evening rentals, etc.) should be able to continue. Please contact those service providers directly for any clarification," said the release.

"It is the sincere hope of the Board of Education and our School District staff that this dispute will be concluded quickly and that normal school operations will resume as soon as possible."

Check the school district website for more information www.sd48.bc.ca.\

The B.C. government introduced Bill 22, The Education Improvement Act, to the legislature on Thursday (March 1). When the bill is approved any continuing strike action would be illegal. Fines would be imposed for each day of a strike — $475 for individual teachers, $2,500 for BCTF officials and $1.3 million for the union.

NDP house leader John Horgan told the CBC that the opposition party will use the maximum time to debate the back-to-work legislation in an attempt to delay its implementation.

"All of our members are going to speak to the bill," he told CBC. "We don't believe it is in the best interests of improving class conditions across British Columbia, and that is the point we will be making."

This may mean that it is likely the bill won't get passed until late next week.

Said B.C.'s education Minister George Abbott in response to the strike notice: "We are truly disappointed by the union's decision to hold a three-day strike beginning next week. A strike of this nature will significantly disrupt student learning and creates tremendous concern for parents and families.

"The union is in a legal strike position. Under the order from the Labour Relations Board, they are able to fully withdraw for three days, but the order is clear that schools are not to be picketed.

"Parents are encouraged to find child-care arrangements for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. However, for parents unable to secure alternate arrangements, all public schools will be open and students will be cared for and supervised.

"Schools will be staffed by non-unionized school and district personnel. Given the LRB order preventing schools from being picketed, we also expect all unionized school support staff, such as education assistants, to be present as well. While there will be no instructional time, all staff will ensure students are supervised in a safe environment."

The BCTF, which represents 41,000 teachers, and the government have been in contract talks for almost a year and without a contract since June. In September teachers began job action and refused to perform administrative tasks.

The union is asking for a 15-per-cent pay raise over three years, while the government is sticking to its “net-zero” mandate — which says public-sector employees can only get a wage increase if they find savings elsewhere in their contracts.

“Teachers are determined and united in their opposition to Bill 22 and to the bullying tactics of a provincial government that has deliberately underfunded public education for a decade,” said BCTF president Susan Lambert, in a news release published after the vote results were counted.

The province is committed to sticking to what a net-zero contract and the BCTF has said the stance is aimed at eliminating fundamental civil and labour rights for teachers.

A labour relations board ruling earlier this week paved the way for teachers to walk out. In the Sea to Sky Corridor students are scheduled to be off school for Spring Break between March 12 and 23. By the time students return to school it is expected Bill 22 will have passed and that legislation makes it illegal for teachers to take full strike action.

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