Langley school board meeting to go ahead, despite teachers strike on Monday

No clear answers on how and if the labour dispute will impact grad, exams, end of year events, sports, lunch hour.

Langley school trustees had to change venues but their board of education meeting will go ahead Monday evening.

All Langley schools will be behind teacher picket lines on Monday, but the board meeting will take place that evening — just not at the school district office.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will take place at Township hall at 7 p.m.

The venue change is to address the teachers’ strike action taking place that day.

Already, the original meeting that was scheduled for May 27 was cancelled when the B.C. Teachers Federation announced Langley schools would be behind picket lines that day.

Meanwhile, parents and students are scrambling to know what events and exams will be impacted by the ongoing dispute between teachers and the government.

There appears to be no end in sight to the labour dispute.

Teachers continue to strike and the government began its partial lockout. A full lockout of all high school teachers starts on June 25 and 26, and then all teachers on June 27. Final exams are held on June 25 and 26, but the government claims those will still go ahead. Provincial exams apparently are also said to go ahead, unless teachers are striking that day.

Several sports events are still carrying on, like the BC High School track and field championships taking place at McLeod Athletic Park this week. Some of the coaches are teachers who are volunteering their time.

But other sporting events, like the Walnut Grove district elementary track and field meet, set for Friday, was cancelled, with the reasoning being that it wasn’t allowed because it fell into recess and lunch hours where teachers aren’t supposed to be participating in anything.

There is much confusion about who is making that decision.

Teachers say the government locked them out and told them they weren’t allowed to do any extra activities.

According to the BC Public School Employers’ Association’s letter on May 26, posted on the Langley School District website under Teacher Bargaining Update, the partial lockout should not prevent teachers from continuing their involvement with student extracurricular programs or other volunteer activities, even if they fall within school hours, like in recess.

The BCPSEA also claims that the lockout shouldn’t prevent teachers from participating in any grad or end-of-school events either.

“At best, everything is uncertain. It’s tricky for everyone to understand. Both sides are saying two different things,” said Langley school district spokesperson Ken Hoff on Thursday.

A letter to parents from school superintendent Suzanne Hoffman thanks teachers and staff for keeping learning a “priority during these challenging times.”

On Thursday, WorkSafe BC refuted the BCTF’s claim that teachers wouldn’t be covered during recess and lunch under the lockout guidelines. The BCTF president had said earlier that is why he directed teachers to not participate in anything outside the classroom.

But in the meantime, the government is directing teachers not to arrive early or stay later during the work day, and then docking each teacher’s pay 10 per cent each day.

The government is also saving millions of dollars for every day teachers are on strike because they aren’t being paid.

Teachers are asking for a 15 per cent raise over four years and changes to class composition. The needs of special needs students overshadow regular students, and teachers feel overburdened.

The Ministry of Education is refusing, so far, to look at class composition or the need for more SEAs in classrooms.

The board meeting will take place inside the Fraser River presentation theatre on the third floor at 20338-65 Ave.