Strike silver lining: Coquitlam district grad ceremonies, dances go ahead

Grad ceremonies at Coquitlam district high schools, continuing education and Coquitlam Open Learning will go ahead with the supervision of managers and excluded staff. - THINKSTOCK
Grad ceremonies at Coquitlam district high schools, continuing education and Coquitlam Open Learning will go ahead with the supervision of managers and excluded staff.
— image credit: THINKSTOCK

School District 43 parents are being advised to make alternate arrangements for their children tomorrow, Friday, Monday and likely for the remainder of the school year unless the BC Teachers' Federation and government negotiators can come to an agreement over the weekend.

However, Grade 12 students can still plan for their commencement ceremonies and graduation dinner and dance.

Today, Thursday, School District 43 superintendent Tom Grant issued a letter that covers the effect of a strike, noting that there will be no accommodation for students in classes tomorrow and into next week, and Strong Start Centres for pre-schoolers will be closed, too. Daycares and pre-schools housed in SD43 schools will inform parents their intentions for the period of the strike.

The letter notes that supervision of grade 10 to 12 provincial exams and marks for grade 12 students have been declared an essential and will proceed as scheduled. There will be a designated entrance to the school for students taking a provincial exam so that students will not have to cross picket lines. As well, students requiring modifications due to their special needs will be accommodated as needed for their provincial exams.

Students should check the school website for updates on what they need to do to be fully ready to take their provincial exams on the scheduled day.

The walkout means that school field trips and extra curricular activities and most facilities rentals will be cancelled during the strike.

However, Grade 12 commencement and graduation dinner and dances were expected to proceed as scheduled, supervised by school administrators and school district management staff, and according to the SD43 calendar, nine schools, including, Continuing Education and Coquitlam Open Learning have ceremonies planned for this month, starting with Gleneagle at the Orpheum on Sunday.

As for report cards, the letter notes that SD43 doesn't have enough information to advise on the status of kindergarten-through Grade 11 report cards but information from the Labour Relations Board will be conveyed as it becomes available.

Meanwhile, parents remain concerned and vigilant about the escalating strike, but see the problem as systemic and difficult to resolve, said Chuck Dennison, the president of the School District 43 District Parents' Advisory Council.

"More and more I think parents are seeing that education and underfunding and teacher contract issues as part of the same problem," Chuck Dennison said.

At issue are wages and class size and composition and, though both sides plan to bargain 24/7 over the coming days, they were still far apart as of Thursday, although the teachers' union did submit an as yet undisclosed revised proposal.


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