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Not business as usual in Kootenay Lake SD8 schools during teacher strike

Students and their parents should not expect to receive formal report cards or to attend parent-teacher conferences this year as the teachers’ job action continues, says the region’s school district.

A recent release from School District No. 8 (Kootenay Lake) said while teachers in the West Kootenay and across B.C. are engaged in phase one of a province-wide teacher strike, their job action focuses on the withdrawal of many services normally provided by teachers.

The BC teachers Federation is still locked in contract negotiations with the British Columbia School Employers’ Association (BCPSEA), the provincial bargaining agent for local boards of education.

The one saving grace in the job action has been that the Labour Relations Board has deemed teaching to be an “essential service.” Therefore, during the first phase of the teachers’ job action, teachers are ensuring that a safe and effective learning environment exists for students in the schools.

“However, teachers have withdrawn many aspects of their jobs which are deemed by the Labour Relations Board to be ‘non-essential,’” the release from SD8 read.

This includes the preparation and distribution of formal report cards, and participation in parent-teacher interviews organized by school administration.

For those about the graduate

Teachers are required by the Labour Relations Board to provide marks for Grade 12 students for the purposes of graduation, applications to post-secondary institutions, and scholarship applications.

At this time of year, parents are normally expecting to receive a formal report card regarding each student’s progress. This year, they will not receive a report card. The

BCTF has encouraged teachers to communicate with parents regarding student achievement. Some teachers do this through a phone call, some through e-mail, while others choose to write a note and send it home to parents.

As the job action continues

“While we recognize that there will be inconsistencies regarding the manner in which parents receive information, we are confident that our teachers will ensure that parents and guardians are informed regarding student progress,” read the release.

The BCTF has asked its members not to communicate with school district administration regarding issues other than those which are related to the safety of students.

Therefore, neither the district nor the principal of a school can ensure consistency in the type of messaging received by parents regarding student achievement.

In addition, parents may be expecting to be invited to parent-teacher interviews. However, the Labour Relations Board does not require teachers to participate in parent-teacher interviews organized by school administration.

People can check the SD8 website frequently for updates regarding the strike action being taken at www.sd8.bc.ca.