Kids on strike: Labour dispute spawns childcare fixes

Westerly News The BC teachers’ strike has delayed the school year but West Coasters aren’t leaving their kids’ educations in the lurch.

Private childcare providers and non-profit organizations are helping out -for a fee.

In Tofino, the Raincoast Education Society grabbed the opportunity to fill the educational void created by the absence of scheduled to bring outdoor educational programming to children from Kindergarten to Grade 7. The goal of the RES is to engage local youth in activities that will lead to a real appreciation of the natural world, said program development and communications officer Luke Stime.

“We wanted to support local youth and parents with great outdoor programs…It’s been a lot of fun for us and for the kids as well.”

The kids spent what was supposed to be their first day of school paddleboarding at MacKenzie Beach and

also learned about local species like bull kelp.

On Thursday they learned about bicycle maintenance and then rode

their bikes to Chesterman Beach before heading to the Tofino Botanical Gardens for continued gaming.

Friday was spent foraging for berries and learning how to make pies and

cobblers out of local fruit.

Stime said about 20 kids per day have been showing up to take in the safe outdoor learning experiences Raincoast is providing and added the society will run on a rolling calendar

with an eye on the teachers’ negotiations.

“We have decided to play it by ear,” he said adding, “We don’t want there to be much of a gap or any gap at all,” between Raincoast’s programs and school kicking off.

Parents pay a daily $40 drop-in fee.

In Ucluelet, the district’s parks and recreation department countered the absence of school by launching Fall Fun Days for kids’ ages 6-12.

The program kicked in on Sept. 2 and will run every weekday

from around 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. until school resumes, according to recreation programmer KK Hodder.

“We are putting on a program that mimics school hours in order to provide a safe and fun environment for kids to go while the teachers are on strike,” she said.

She said the recreation department provided similar service during the end of last school year when the strike kicked up and monitored the situation all summer ready to jump in if needed. “It seemed like it was something that we needed to keep at the back of our heads in terms of organizing something for the start of September,” she said. “It was always on the backburner.”