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Graduation ceremonies, other activities threatened by BCTF decision

Graduation ceremonies might be affected by a BCTF decision to withdraw from extracurricular activities in schools. - Erin Haluschak
Graduation ceremonies might be affected by a BCTF decision to withdraw from extracurricular activities in schools.
— image credit: Erin Haluschak

Effective immediately, Comox Valley teachers will not perform extracurricular activities which will cause some cancellations.
The BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) conducted a provincewide vote from April 17 to 19, in which 73 per cent of teachers voted to rescinding their involvement in extracurricular activities until the end of the school year.
School District 71 superintendent Sherry Elwood told the Record the district will have to look at each activity on a "case by case basis," but at this point, she is sure some activities will not be able to go ahead.
"The district will work with principals and vice-principals planning to provide as consistent approach as possible to manage this, however we are certain that not all extracurricular activities will go ahead," said Elwood. "We know already that school administration and volunteer parents will not be able to, nor will they be asked to, replicate every type of activity that has currently been planned for the next few months."
Tonia Frawley, Comox Valley District Parent Advisory Council (DPAC) chair, spoke to Comox Valley parents at a meeting Monday evening and said the situation is frustrating for everyone.
"It is a frustrating time for everyone involved," said Frawley. "There are so many events being affected by this next level of action. The way graduation ceremonies will look this year, whether or not kids will get to go to camp, as well as track and field, just to name a few.
"Every teacher, school and district will vary from each other, which is why there aren’t clear, cut answers at this point for our parents."
Elwood said parents can check school websites their children attend for updates, and they can watch for school newsletters on how individual schools' plan to deal with their extracurricular activities.
Comox District Teachers' Association president Steve Stanley said Comox Valley teachers generally support withdrawal from extracurricular activities, and hopes those who don't agree will still withdraw.
"We hope that teachers will respect the vote, respect the feelings of their colleagues even if they don't agree with it," said Stanley, adding there could be consequences from the union for teachers who continue with extracurricular activities.
This withdrawal from extracurricular activities extends to end of this school year; any future action would face another provincewide BCTF vote.
stanley noted teachers may participate in activities like sports and graduation ceremony planning, but only if work is done during regular school hours.
He added many SD71 schools hold annual Grade 7 camping trips, which will be hard for teachers to attend during regular school hours because of the locations.
"If they're going to go ahead with overnight camping trips it'll have to be parents and administrators involved and not teachers," said Stanley. Teacher involvement "becomes difficult because most of these trips go Hornby or Quadra Island so it's difficult getting in and out, so it's probably going to be stopped or dropped."
Elwood added teacher withdrawal from extracurricular activities is a philosophical issue for many teachers.
"We are aware that this is a deep philosophical issue for teachers and that it can create tension for all involved," said Elwood. "Many teachers contribute hundreds of hours of voluntary time to their schools and to the district, and their contributions create positive experiences for our students."
Stanley said the impact of Bill 22 on classrooms is a larger issue for teachers than extracurricular activities.
"We know kids and parents are going to be disappointed but we believe that once the impact of Bill 22 is felt in the classroom next year, kids are actually going to be hurt by it, their chances of success are going to be diminished by the larger class sizes," said Stanley. "We feel that's a more important issue than whether they get to play basketball or whatever the sport might be."
writer@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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