Parents should prepare for school year to end early: District CEO

Teachers at Tweedsmuir elementary school man their picket line on Monday, May 26 as part of the BC Teachers
Teachers at Tweedsmuir elementary school man their picket line on Monday, May 26 as part of the BC Teachers' Federation's rotating strikes to put pressure on contract negotiations.

New Westminster parents are being asked to prepare for the possibility its schools won't be open for the rest of the school year.

District superintendent/CEO John Gaiptman made the request in a letter sent out Thursday. It followed on the heels of the B.C. Teachers' Federation serving notice it will be on strike across the province as of Tuesday, June 17. On Monday, B.C. teachers will be holding a "study session" and will not be at school.

Gaiptman said there won't be sufficient staff on Monday to provide supervision or instruction. So he asked parents not to send their children to school on Monday or any day after that until the strike is over.

"Unless the BCTF and the provincial government are able to reach an agreement, Friday, June 13th will be the last day of classes for students. I am asking that families prepare for the possibility that schools will not be in the position to accept students for the rest of the school year," wrote Gaiptman.

He noted, however, the B.C. Labour Relations Board (LRB) ruled recently that supervision and student access to write Grade 10 to 12 exams must go on despite any strike. The ordered Grade 12 marks must be submitted and compiled by June 20 so graduating students can complete their school year and get the final grades so they can move on to post-secondary education.

"What we are facing next week saddens me but it hasn't changed my opinion on the importance of public education" or his belief New Westminster has an abundance of "great teachers," wrote Gaiptman. "I appreciate that this situation has caused, and will cause, considerable inconvenience for families. I ask you to remain patient with us and to join me in hoping for a quick resolution at the bargaining table."

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