Teachers' opposition to Bill 22 has resulted in many teachers standing down from extra-curricular involvement. That stance may be strengthened through a province-wide vote being conducted by the BCTF of its members on April 17-18. This update contains information on the status of extra-curricular activities for the spring in Saanich.
As always, we extend our appreciation to our teachers, support staff, administrators, parents and community partners who keep our schools alive with excitement through their voluntary work as coaches, managers, sponsors and organizers of extra-curricular events. As of the writing of this notice one example that comes to mind is the 30-team Rugby Scrum Fest that has teams from across BC, as well as Ontario, Alberta and Australia, competing in a friendly three-day tournament at Claremont. Normally, that is just one of dozens of spring events, sports seasons, performances and year-end activities that are underway from April to June.
However, as readers will know, this is not a normal year, with teachers' opposition to Bill 22 having resulted in many teachers standing down from extra-curricular involvement. That stance may be strengthened through a province-wide vote being conducted by the BCTF of its members on April 17-18.
In Saanich, the status of extra-curricular activities for the spring is as follows:
Each middle school has a number of events that are carrying on with teacher volunteer leadership, including rugby at Bayside and Royal Oak and most band/choir events including scheduled trips. However, most middle schools sports have been cancelled for the spring season. As well, a number of other voluntary activities are likely to be cancelled or adjusted in some way. For example, decisions regarding year-end events such as grade 6 camp and grade 8 farewell will be made based on the context and levels of support in each school. Please contact your school office for more specific information in regard to events or activities at your school.
Most, or in some schools all, spring season extra-curricular athletics are running in our secondary schools, primarily with teacher coaches supported by authorized parent and community volunteers. Some other extra-curricular involvement of teachers, for example sponsorship of student government and some clubs, may have been withdrawn. One key consideration in each secondary school is the status of planning for graduation ceremonies, which relies on teacher support. While we expect the ceremonies to occur, we are uncertain as to the status of other post-ceremony events and appreciate that parents, administrators, teachers,support staff and student leaders are in ongoing discussions regarding grad. As a district we remain committed to providing students with opportunities to pursue their interests and passions beyond the classroom, and aware that these interests come with some high stakes for secondary students. We recognize and appreciate that those opportunities have always come because of extraordinary commitments of teachers working with other adults in the school communities.
For the remainder of this school year all Saanich teachers have decided to withdraw their voluntary participation in extra curricular activities at this time. Athletic activities such as cross country or track and field, as well as other extra curricular activities like drama or choir, will not take place.
It has been suggested that elementary administrators could have parent volunteers run extra curricular programs with administrators acting as sponsors for practices and events. Although administrators appreciate parents’ willingness to step forward, there are several factors that have led to a decision to not use these volunteers:
- It would be difficult to get consistent qualifications of volunteers (skill set, experience with diverse groups of children, commitment to confidentiality).
- It would be difficult to get the number of coaches necessary to effectively run these programs
- It would be impossible for an administrator to be present at each practice and or event, making it difficult to ensure that School District expectations for student behaviour are met by all.
- Liability issues arise when District personnel are not present.
We regret that elementary schools (and to some extent middle and secondary schools) will not be offering extra curricular opportunities for our students at this time. We understand the clear benefits to children from participating in these activities and look forward to these resuming, hopefully in the near future.