The B.C. Teachers’ Federation (BCTF) says all teachers will return to work after spring break even though students won’t be in school.
On March 17, Premier John Horgan announced that all in-school K-12 classes across the province would remain closed after spring break at the recommendation of provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.
“This is a crisis situation, there’s no making that sound any better,” Horgan said. He added that a decision on when classes resume will be made in the future.
Later the same day, teachers received a notice from the BCTF explaining that while students won’t be on campuses until further notice, teachers will need to come into work after their respective spring breaks end.
“No one knows exactly what that will look like, but there is time to sort that out by working cooperatively with ministry and district representatives,” said BCTF president Teri Mooring in an email sent to teachers on March 17.
She added that teachers aren’t expected to be working over the spring break and that there will be time for collaborative planning when staff return.
Mooring also noted that contract teachers won’t lose pay and that updates for substitute teachers will be available once the federal government provides information about making access to Employment Insurance “easier and quicker.”
Saanich Teachers’ Association president Don Peterson said that while many details are unclear, the message teachers have received from the BCTF is clear: “continuity of learning” is important.
He speculated that teachers may be asked to move their classes online. However, Peterson noted that the “buy-in” from families will vary. Education Minister Rob Fleming announced on March 17 that all students who are currently on track to move onto the next grade or to graduate will do so.
Peterson recommends that residents continue to “listen to advisories” and stay informed as the situation with COVID-19 progresses. Updates about classes will be communicated to students and teachers when information is available, he said.
-With files from Katya Slepian