Opinion: Communication breakdown

If parents are frustrated by the amount of information they've received regarding the coming strike by teachers, it's no wonder.

So it appears the school year for Chilliwack students will end, not with a bang, but a whimper.

Yesterday may well have been the last day of classes for students within the public system.

Thursday morning the B.C. Teachers’ Federation formally issued a 72-hour strike notice, meaning a full strike will begin Tuesday, unless a deal can be reached over the weekend.

Chilliwack students, however, were already out of classes on Friday because of rotating strikes. And they will be out Monday as well, as teachers hold “study sessions” with their union at locations off school property.

What all this means for parents is still unclear.

The Chilliwack School Board apparently held a board meeting on June 10 to discuss contingency plans, but the district only posted a letter regarding that meeting and the steps it proposes to take at noon Thursday on its website.

The letter addressed some issues, like daycares. The board voted June 10 to give daycares located on school property the choice to remain open during the strike, but parents will have to find out if they actually are. (Why this was necessary is unclear, because the Chilliwack Teachers’ Association had already told the board that the daycares would not be picketed.)

As for what will happen in the schools on Monday, that too seems unclear. The schools will be open, no pickets will be in place, but in the letter to parents the district does not say if students should be kept at home.

All “non school” district activities, like facility rentals, StrongStart Centres, Neighbourhood Learning Centres  and Community Schools will be closed during any strike action, but will remain open on the Monday.

As for final exams and marks, the Labour Relations Board has provided some clarity there. Provincial exams for grades 10-12 will go ahead, but school-based exams will not. All school-based final grades for Grade 12 are to be submitted by June 20.

Other exams, final marks and assessments aren’t discussed in the letter.

But parents are encouraged to “monitor our website for the most current information we have.”

Cold comfort for something everyone saw coming, but no one seems to be prepared for.

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