May 7, 2014
Re: Field Trips and Special Events during the BCTF Strike Action
There are a wide variety of field trip activities taking place in schools in the next eight weeks, as well as special year-end school events such as graduation ceremonies and awards nights. I am writing to let you know that it is possible that a number of these trips and events will be affected by the current Stage 1 strike action currently being undertaken by the B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) and/or any escalation of strike activity, and some trips or events may need to be cancelled:
The status of each field trip will depend on what phase of strike action is underway at the time of the trip, and the nature and destination of the trip.
Special school events may need to be rescheduled to ensure that they take place during the normal school day, and may need to be cancelled if there is a full-scale strike. Accompanying this letter is an information sheet about the factors that may affect planned field trips, as well as information about district events that have been cancelled. We have advised school principals that they must take the various factors into consideration and have contingency plans in place should a trip or event need to be cancelled. We recognize that many of these planned field trips and events are special occasions that students and parents have been planning for, raising money for, and looking forward to for a long time. While we will not cancel field trips or events unnecessarily, our first priority will be to ensure that there are appropriate measures in place to ensure student safety and supervision. If you have questions about a particular trip or event, please discuss those with your school principal.
Dave Hutchinson, Superintendent of Schools/CEO
Information about the Impact of BCTF Strike Action on Activities in Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools District Events that Have Been Cancelled, To Date
Elementary Zone and District Track and Field Meets – These meets are large events which bring together students from a number of elementary schools. Given the current situation with the BCTF strike action, the district believes that it cannot provide the required level of student supervision at these meets and has, regretfully, decided to cancel them.
Aboriginal Student Graduation Celebration – Regretfully, it has been decided that it is not feasible to proceed with this annual celebration, which was scheduled for the evening of May 22.
The May 6 Success for All Non-Instructional Day was cancelled, as were the one-hour early dismissals for Professional Learning Communities on April 28 and May 12. Factors Affecting Field Trips and School Events – May and June 2014
Type of Strike Activity that Is Occurring or Anticipated:
Stage 1 of the strike by the BCTF is currently underway. Stage 1 involves the withdrawal of many teacher activities including: Teachers removing themselves from administrative tasks, including written communication with the school principal. This type of strike activity could prevent the required documents for field trips being provided to principals. Teachers are only providing limited supervision of students before or after school or at recess, although they may provide voluntary extra-curricular supervision during this stage. Teachers are limiting their attendance at schools outside of instructional time to one hour before classes and one hour after classes.
Stage 2 of a strike would include teachers withdrawing from work on a rotating basis around the province. Picket lines may be at schools. If a rotating strike were to take place in our district on a day that a field trip or special event was scheduled, that trip or event would have to be cancelled. BCTF is required to give two days’ notice about rotating strikes. A rotating strike could cause problems with multi-day field trips out of the school district, since it is possible we would not know about the strike until after students had left on the trip.
Stage 3 would be a complete strike, province-wide. If this were to take place this spring, all trips and events would be cancelled, and students already on trips would likely be required to return home as soon as possible.
We do not know when, or if, Stages 2 or 3 might take place.
With all field trips, there is important documentation that must be completed. This includes providing the school principal with details of the trip, emergency contact information, and a list of students going on the trip. This information must be provided to the principal in order for a field trip to proceed, and the principal must be satisfied that there will be adequate supervision of the students on the field trip.
For overnight field trips, the district requires that at least one school district employee accompanies the group. Because there are a large number of overnight trips being planned, the district is not able to ensure that staff sponsors will be available to supervise all such trips. Contingency Planning and Cancellation Fees
Parents should be aware that because of the uncertainty about the current strike action and potential rotating or full-scale strike action, there is a possibility that money committed will not be refundable. Graduation Activities and Year-End Events
Events that are held during the school day should be able to proceed as planned unless there is a Stage 2 rotating strike or Stage 3 full strike on that particular day. For events taking place after school hours, the situation will vary from school to school, depending on the availability of organizers and supervision.