The Prince Rupert District Teacher’s Union (PRDTU) is accusing the school district of breaking a ruling of the Labour Relations Board by cancelling recess.
“In our mind that goes against the Labour Relations Board essential services ruling, which says administration and excluded staff is suppose to be picking up the recess supervision. Two years ago the district did that and they have lots of numbers for doing that, but the district chose not to … we don’t think that it is fair to students to cancel recess. I think they should restore recess, follow the order and have administration and excluded staff provide that supervision as they are doing in other school districts,” said PRDTU president Kathy Murphy.
Murphy said she has read of five other school district’s cancelling recess, but said there is no justification for the decision in Prince Rupert.
“They are doing it without showing cause that there are not enough people. The ruling said recess would be provided by management and if there wasn’t enough they could talk to teachers about having the local do some of that work, but we do feel that is enough,” she said.
“They’re not the only [district], but in the minority for sure.”
Beginning tomorrow, Prince Rupert students will start the school day 15 minutes later than usual and miss out on the regularly scheduled recess.
The decision to shift the schedule by 15 minutes was made in response to work-to-rule job action from the B.C. Teacher’s Federation that starts April 23. While teachers have taken job action before without similar changes being made, superintended Sandy Jones said the district felt the move was the fairest possible.
“The challenge is that in the first round of job action teachers are no longer providing supervision, so we would have to depend on excluded staff to that. We did that last time there was job action and those staff provided supervision for a long time … part of my role is to make sure all employee groups are supported and it is not very supportive to ask one group to leave their position to take on that work before returning to their regular positions,” she said.
“It is regretful, and hopefully it is short-term, that we have to cancel recess but it is done so we are not asking something extra from one employee group in the district.”
While some school districts have taken to ending the day 15 minutes early instead of starting 15 minutes later, Jones said this configuration was the most widely adapted
during the last round of job action.
“We hadn’t considered ending earlier, which would affect every scheduling aspect of the day. With this method, the only real change is at the start of the day leading up to recess. It’s less complicated this way,” she said, noting she is hopeful negotiations lead to a new contract in the near future.
“Obviously the people that make those decisions are not in Prince Rupert, but I am really hopeful there is a quick resolution this time.”
Details on the impact the changes will have on individual schools and bussing can be found at the school district’s website.