The B.C. Labour Relations Board (LRB) has ruled that some summer school courses are “essential” and must proceed, despite the strike-lockout situation that has shuttered schools for two weeks.
Those essential courses are remedial classes for Grade 10-12 students who failed a course and “cannot take the failed course during the following school year”, the LRB says in an interim ruling released Friday.
But before any teachers can be forced back to work, school districts must make every effort to find non-union staff with teaching certificates – such as principals and vice-principals – to instruct the courses.
The LRB has scheduled a case management hearing for Thursday to deal with any outstanding issues. That’s the same day when several school districts will be making a decision about the future of their summer school programs.
Although there was no immediate response from the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF), some teachers are questioning the LRB wording, saying there are no students who cannot take the failed course during the following year.
“Given that any student can return to school (even after Grade 12), and that every district offers required courses in every school year . . . the only students to whom this applies are ones who will not be alive in the following school year or plan on being physically or mentally incapacitated between the end of summer school and the beginning of the next school year,” Prince George teacher Glen Thielmann wrote on his blog.
During a regular year, about 50,000 students enrol in summer school but only a portion of those would fit the LRB description. Summer school is free for B.C. students but it also attracts fee-paying international students. Unless a deal is reached quickly, their registrations will be cancelled and school districts will lose that tuition.
The BCTF has decided to remove pickets at the five schools with balanced calendars so that classes can continue in July.