SURREY – With the start of the school year still in doubt and the teachers and province supposedly engaged in negotiations, Surrey parents are growing increasingly concerned that their kids won’t be able to get in the classroom on time.
"It’s not looking optimistic but I’m really hoping they can find a way to make it happen," said Bob Holmes, co-president of the Surrey District Parent Advisory Council.
"We have a week left and this will be the fourth school year to be affected by job action."
According to Holmes, parents just want some sort of a deal to be reached as the prospect of heading into another year of job action won’t be helping students at all.
"We all feel the kids are the ones most affected by this and we want them to be able to get back into school again," said Holmes, adding, "Another group that really gets hurt by this are vulnerable families where parents are out there working and they don’t have the money to be putting kids in daycare or taking time off work, and if they got hit hard in June for them to be hit hard again with this, what are they to do with their kids?" In response to school possibly not starting on time, several organizations have come forward offering day camps if school does not begin.
Surrey YMCA will be offering day camps for children ages 5 to 12 that will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on what would normally be school days. The YMCA camps will offer sports, physical activity and inside and outside time. Registration for those sessions will be limited and information is available at Vanymca.org.
At the City of Surrey, several types of day camps will be held for families looking to keep their kids (ages 5 to 12) occupied during the times they’d normally be spending in the classroom.
"We have quite a bit planned and just posted all of that information on our website," said Laurie Cavan, the city’s general manager of parks and recreation.
"We had ran some day camps in June when the kids were unexpectedly out of school as well so what we’ve done is continue to offer that same type of programming this fall."
According to Cavan, planning for the September day camps began a few weeks ago. Given that school is not starting on time was a very real possibility, "We thought it would be in the best interest of the community to implement something for the fall."
Cavan said the city’s had some calls from parents in the past few weeks and while the June day camps had on average 140 kids per day at each one, they believe there will be more demand this September.
"It may be different this time of year because people had summer on the horizon back in June," she said.
Surrey day camps are currently planned to run from Sept. 2 to 5, but may extend if a deal between teachers and the province is not reached at that time.
Asked how much the day camps might cost the city, Cavan said they would be running on a "break-even basis."
White Rock will also be running day camps for children ages six to 12 and, like Surrey’s, will keep children busy with outdoor recreation, arts and crafts, games. White Rock’s camps will run 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about Surrey day camps, go to Surrey.ca. For White Rock, go to Whiterockcity.ca.