First day of school, not: Strike delays start of student year

Local parents and students spent what was supposed to be the first day of school on Tuesday rallying for an end to the BC teachers’ strike.

The group marched from Ucluelet Secondary to Ucluelet Elementary where they were greeted by elementary school principal Jennifer Adamson, who read a statement from School District 70 superintendent Greg Smyth that said in the absence of the teachers, no educational programs would be offered.

Dennis Morgan’s son was supposed to start Grade 1 on Tuesday but that experience was delayed.

“This would have been his first day of school today and it’s not going to happen…he doesn’t get that first big day of school that’s pretty special,” Morgan said.

“It’s just disappointing that it’s gotten to this point, it shouldn’t have, there was all summer for people to figure stuff out and that didn’t happen and I put most of the responsibility for that not happening on the government’s side. I think the teachers have been pretty good about what they’re asking for.”

Naomi Swann has four sons- one going into Grade 4, one going into Grade 2, one going into Grade 1, and the youngest still a few years away from kindergarten- and she said it has been difficult to explain to them why school is still out.

“They want to be here with their friends, they want to be here playing and they can’t, and it’s tough to try and teach them what it all means,” she said.

“They’re frustrated, we’re frustrated, it’s time to resolve this issue and move on.”

Carrie Midlane has one child heading into Grade 2, another heading into Grade 1 and a third who won’t start kindergarten until next year.

“All they know is they want to go to school, they don’t understand what’s going on, and it’s sad to see,” she said. “It’s frustrating as a parent.”

The BC Teachers Federation and BC Public School Employers Association were unable to reach an agreement over the weekend so the teachers’ strike, which began during the last school year, spilled

into this school year.

Mediator Vince Ready left the negotiation table on Saturday, saying the two sides were too far apart for a resolution to be reached by Tuesday.

Ucluelet Elementary School teacher Christine Brice said traction has been made in terms of wages and benefits but the two sides are still in disagreement over class size and composition.

“At the table there’s been lots of movement on wages and benefits lots of points where we’re very

close, but the government is still refusing to talk about specific class size and composition issues,” she said.

Ucluelet Secondary School teacher Wade Appenheimer said teachers share the frustration of local students and parents and he encouraged parents to make a stronger stand.

“We want to be teaching absolutely, but we don’t have as much power as what the parents have,” he said.

“It’s the parents that have to

start really doing something to help out because the government doesn’t really listen to what we say, they’re more concerned about what the parents do and say, so the parents have to really step up and force the issue.”

He encourages parents to contact the Province and send their kids to school during the strike.

Brice said parents have seen the impact of expanding class sizes and too-few specialist teachers.

“They’ve seen firsthand what is happening in our classrooms and

how it’s not beneficial,” she said “Last year we had a grade 4-5-6 three-way split with 25 students, eight of those students were designated with special needs, there was no full-time aide assigned to that class for help; that teacher was on her own.”

She added UES is slated to possibly welcome a 30-student Grade 5-6-7 split this year that may have as many as 10 special needs students.

reporter@westerlynews.ca

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rent-It Centre takes over curbside collection contract in Tofino and Ucluelet

Rent It Centre’s bid was $25,865 lower than the only other bidder, SonBird Refuse and Recycling.

Tofino and Ucluelet’s Top 10 sports and arts stories of 2019

Revisiting the Coast’s best sports and arts newsmakers of the past year.

Tofino’s first cannabis dispensary opens

“I don’t know where it’s going, but happy how it’s gone so far.”

Tofino welcomes much needed veterinarian to town

West Coast has not had a full-time vet since Dr. Jane Hunt surrendered her licence in 2004.

Looking back on the West Coast’s top 10 news stories

Tofino and Ucluelet’s top headlines of 2019.

VIDEO: Cold snap brings ideal conditions for Okanagan icewine

Take an inside look at how icewine is made

Blue Monday is a myth but seasonal affective disorder and the winter blues are real

Canadian Mental Health Association says weather can affect mood

PHOTOS: Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

More than 70 centimetres of new snow fell overnight, creating whiteout conditions

Prince Harry, Meghan to give up ‘royal highness’ titles

‘Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved members of my family,’ says Queen Elizabeth II

Ice chunk from truck crushes vehicle windshield on Vancouver Island

None injured, but Nanaimo RCMP say there can be fines for accumulations of ice and snow

B.C. society calls out conservation officer after dropping off bear cub covered in ice

Ice can be seen in video matted into emaciated bear cub’s fur

Calls for dialogue as Coastal GasLink pipeline polarizes some in northern B.C.

Coastal GasLink is building the 670-kilometre pipeline from British Columbia’s northeast to Kitimat on the coast

Wind and snow spark power outages across Vancouver Island

Winter storm warning in effect for east and west regions while wind warning to hit south and north

BC Ferries hybrid ships arrive in Victoria on Saturday

The battery-operated vessels will take over smaller routes

Most Read