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'Welcome' meetings may still take place

There are no plans to change the procedure for welcoming kindergarten students and their parents to school in the Tri-Cities despite an ongoing labour dispute with the BC Teachers' Federation.

There are no plans to change the procedure for welcoming kindergarten students and their parents to school in the Tri-Cities despite an ongoing labour dispute with the BC Teachers' Federation.

School District 43 assistant superintendent Maureen Dockendorf said Monday that "welcoming conversations" are still being planned for the first week back to school in September even though teachers aren't required to meet with parents during or outside of instructional time in the first phase of job action.

The activities teachers aren't required to do are listed in an labour relations document produced following an adjudication process in late July. They include meet-the-teacher activities, parent and staff meetings, filing report cards, and handling money for school photos and fundraising while teachers are in contract negations.

But some details still have to be worked out and Dockendorf said information about the future of kindergarten welcoming conversations - half-hour meetings with parents to provide information about individual child needs - won't be known until strike notice has been given.

"How this will play out, we won't know until we have 72 hours [notice]," Dockendorf said.

But she said she expects the meetings will go ahead as planned because they will be scheduled when students aren't in the classroom, removing the necessity of providing teacher coverage, as stipulated in the adjudication document.

"There will be no kids [during the meeting] but we don't know. For sure we will be in conversation internally and with the union," Dockendorf said.

Such conversations are critical, Dockendorf said, to provide teachers with the information they need to support the new learners in the classroom, and parents are in the best position to provide those details.

"This would be an important time for teachers to listen to parents," Dockendorf said.

Parents of kindergarten students who haven't already scheduled a meeting with their teacher can expect to schedule a time when they show up with their child Sept. 6 to confirm registration.

Meanwhile, contract negotiations were expected to resume Tuesday (yesterday) between the BCTF and the BC Public School Employers' Association, which remain far apart on issues such as pay and benefits.

dstrandberg@tricitynews.com

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