SURREY â€” Teachers in the provinceâ€™s largest school district resumed limited picket lines Tuesday, a week prior to whatâ€™s supposed to be the start date of the 2014/2015 school year.
But with the BCTF and government seemingly still at odds and time fast-running out, Surrey Teachers Association (STA) President Jennifer Wadge said itâ€™s unfortunately looking like the districtâ€™s 5,000 teachers will merely be resuming their strike duties instead of returning to classroom duties after Labour Day.
For this week, teachers are only picketing four secondary schools in Surrey: Princess Margaret, Johnston Heights, Lord Tweedsmuir and Earl Marriott.
â€œStarting on Sept. 2, when school should have been getting started if we were going to get a deal, weâ€™re going to be resuming the full pickets like we did in June,â€ said Wadge.
According to Wadge, teachers are feeling both anxious and frustrated about the current situation and the state of where the negotiations are at.
â€œTeachers are very anxious about when they can go back to work and especially for some of our newer teachers theyâ€™re really feeling the financial burden so thatâ€™s creating a lot of anxiety,â€ said Wadge. â€œIâ€™ve heard from a lot of parents over the summer who are feeling that exact same frustration.â€
Wadge said it was especially frustrating that the situation has been allowed to get to this point.
â€œSo we had these whole two months of July and August when they could have been engaging in meaningful bargaining to get school back in September and it just didnâ€™t happen,â€ she said. â€œPeter Cameron was not getting the okay from government to sit down and meet so thatâ€™s where teachers are really feeling frustrated, it felt like there wasnâ€™t a lot of genuine interest from government to get school back in September.â€
Over at the district a notice is posted for parents saying it was â€œdoing all it can to be prepared for the potential of school opening day on September 2.â€
In a letter to parents, district superintendent Jordan Tinney said nobody would be able to know if school was starting on time until right before the scheduled day.
"In the current context, we are left with few options but to suggest that parents begin to make alternate arrangements for the care of their children," he wrote. "The nature of bargaining is that the pressure necessary to reach a resolution builds as major timelines get closer. Maximum pressure in the current context will not likely occur until very close to September 2nd when parents across the province hope to take their children to school for opening day. If we receive last-minute notice of a resolution and are informed that schools can open, we have routines in place and while there would certainly be issues to tackle such as appropriate timetabling of students or building classes, we would like nothing more than to open as quickly as possible."
The district is also accepting registration for all schools and is reminding parents to check the website for the latest information from the district.
For now all parents can do is hope that a deal is struck at the eleventh hour, and perhaps begin looking into some of the many day camp offerings popping up in lieu of school being put on hold.