School district prepares for September start

While the teachers’ strike continues, school district officials are preparing for the normal start to the school year in early September.

While the British Columbia teachers’ strike continues, school district officials are preparing for the normal start to the school year in early September.

The school year normally begins the day after Labour Day, or Sept. 2, but because the dispute between the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association has not yet been resolved, it is not known whether the start of the year will be delayed.

Wendy Hyer, superintendent of schools for the Okanagan Skaha School District, said she is “cautiously optimistic” that the school year will begin on time.

“We’re in the process of preparing to open the schools on Sept. 2,” she said. “We’re going to proceed as we normally do.”

Linda Van Alphen, a Summerland school trustee, said it is not clear whether the dispute can be resolved in time. “Everyone’s hoping for the best,” she said.

While British Columbia has had teacher strikes in the past, the present strike is unique because of its length. Rotating strikes began in late May and the full-scale strike began in June.

If the strike continues into October as some have speculated, it is not known if the school year would be extended into the summer months, so students could cover the necessary course material.

In the past, a teacher strike has not resulted in changes to the school year or summer schedule, but other strikes have not lasted more than a few days, Hyer said.

In addition to affecting students and parents within the district, Hyer said there are also 55 international students who have registered to study in the Okanagan Skaha School District for the coming year.

“It’s a difficult situation for everyone involved,” Hyer said. “It’s not a situation any of us enjoy being in.”