Elementary school students will no longer get a 15-minute recess come May 20, following a decision made by School District 20 released Monday.
The third week of strike action by the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation was met with the decision to shorten the school day for SD20 schools by 15 minutes as a means of lessening the duty for district management staff, who have been responsible for before-school, recess and after-school supervision since teachers refuse to perform those duties as part of their strike action.
“After trying for almost three weeks to maintain the current schedule we cannot continue,” explained superintendent of schools Greg Luterbach in a letter to parents and guardians.
“This decision is made to ensure student safety and reduce the burden on district management staff who already had full-time work to perform prior to covering all the supervision.”
Andy Davidoff, president of the Kootenay Columbia Teachers Union, said it didn’t take long for SD20 administrators to convince the board to jump on the recess cancellation bandwagon this time around.
“Our district did not cancel recess during a similar job action several years ago but it appears administrators do not have the stamina to do what teachers do every day, namely, do their regular jobs, and provide supervision,” he said. “It is also ironic that our district is cancelling recess when SD#5 in the East Kootenays has just reinstated it after initially cancelling it.”
In secondary schools, the reduced day means that selected breaks will be eliminated or reduced. While school start times will remain the same, the bell will ring 15 minutes earlier with school buses adjusting their pickup times accordingly.
In order to reduce the supervision demands before and after school, SD20 is asking parents and guardians to try to drop off and pick up their children as close to the bell time as possible during this time.
Phase 1 of the job action has teachers refusing to supervise students outside the classroom except as an essential service order, arriving no more than one hour before class and leaving one hour after school hours, refusing all meetings except those related to work site occupational health and safety, and refusing to provide or receive written or electronic communication from school managers.