A dozen school districts have decided there will be no recess for students during the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) job action, which began Wednesday. But was that necessary?
A BCTF release describing this initial job action says teachers will not supervise students outside of regularly scheduled classes, “except as set out by an essential services order”.
That order, from the B.C. Labour Relations Board (LRB), does not excuse teachers from supervision duties, but says schools must first use managers and non-union staff as much as possible to replace teachers in that capacity. Here is the exact wording:
“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.”
If agreement on supervision is impossible, the LRB said it would adjudicate, upon request. Here is further clarification from the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association.
The 12 school boards that announced on Wednesday that recess has been cancelled throughout their districts did not indicate that they were seeking the LRB’s assistance in an effort to preserve the mid-morning break.
Rather, the message was that there are insufficient non-union employees to supervise students three times a day: at recess, before school and after school.
Moyra Baxter, chairwoman of the Central Okanagan board, told Kelowna Capital that even two trips to schools each day take a toll.
“These people have full-time jobs themselves,” she’s quoted as saying. “Last time, when they were going before and after school, it amounted to two hours a day they had to cut out of their day, and that’s quite a big percentage to take from people.”
The story didn’t mention why the board hadn’t first asked the LRB to mediate.
BCTF president Jim Iker criticized the cancellations, saying they were unnecessary and inappropriate.
“The school districts that have cancelled recess have done so because it is inconvenient to principals and management staff,” he stated Wednesday. “They have not even tried to find coverage as per the order from the Labour Relations Board.”
Some teachers on Twitter suggested management was taking the easiest route, while leaving the impression that job action was to blame.
In addition to Central Okanagan, recess has been cancelled in Arrow Lakes, Bulkley Valley, Campbell River, Coast Mountains, Cowichan, Nanaimo, North Okanagan Shuswap, Prince George, Prince Rupert, Quesnel and Southeast Kootenay school districts.
I am a guest blogger for BCCPAC and information presented here does not represent the views of the organization