Surrey school district will move pro-d day, open Monday if deal approved

SURREY — The province’s largest school district, Surrey, is prepared to open its doors this Monday (Sept. 22) pending the ratification of a deal between teachers and the government.

In a letter to parents, superintendent Jordan Tinney said as teachers and district board prepare to vote on the deal Thursday, the district would be rescheduling its non-instructional day previously scheduled for Monday in lieu of the first day of school.

"We are reaching out to our local teachers’ association to discuss a better placement of this day and will let parents know as soon as we have rescheduled it in a spot that works better for our schools and our community," he said.

Tinney said Monday would operate like the typical first day of school with a shortened day.

"As you will know from the past, these first days allow us to greet students, set preliminary enrolment and then prepare in earnest for the coming school days. Our first full day of school would be Tuesday and we would proceed with school as it usually unfolds on any other opening week in September," he wrote.

Despite the three week delay of the school year, Tinney said students entering kindergarten would still go through the gradual entry phase as per common district practice.

"For our youngest learners, some of whom are still four years old, gradual entry includes a phasing in of small groups and shortened attendance times. This gentle introduction to kindergarten builds a foundation for success in school. The gradual start allows children to adjust to a new school environment and allows time for the family to meet with teachers to develop relationships. We understand that we have been away a long time and perhaps, in the current context, a gradual entry for these very young children is more important than ever," he said.

As for provincial exams and the possibility of extended school days to make up for lost time, Tinney said there were no plans at this time to extend school days as the practice was already in play at some overcrowded schools in the district. Tinney said they are still waiting on information from the Ministry of Education regarding what adjustments may need to be made about the school calendar relating to provincials.

"We are certain we will be adjusting, we simply don’t know the dates yet," he said. "We have heard many comments about adjusting spring break. We know that reducing the two week spring break to one week would be a very significant move for families and our community. When we publish our long range calendar, people make plans, book tickets and count on our schedule. At this point we are not making any decisions about spring break until we know more about balancing time through the year."

Tinney ended his letter by thanking both bargaining teams for reaching a tentative deal.

"While we await ratification, we know that both teams put in huge hours and an enormous effort to reach the place of a tentative deal. Also, we should acknowledge that our teachers and their support staff colleagues have been walking a picket line since last spring. For all involved, it has been a long journey indeed. For families who have been forced to find alternate care, to make arrangements around work schedules and more, we thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing your children back in our schools on Monday."

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