Just in time for autumn, students returned to classes last Monday, Sept. 22, nearly a month after school had been scheduled to resume.
Classes ran for a half-day on Monday, the first official day of school, ending three hours earlier than regular with Tuesday seeing students in class for their first full day in months.
Not everyone has returned to classes as of yet however, with Babine Elementary School set to open tomorrow, Sept. 25 for its first full day back.
Classes returned after the B.C. Teacher’s Federation (BCTF) voted in favour of accepting a negotiated contract. Of the more than 30,000 teachers who voted on the deal, 86 per cent voted in favour of it.
Despite 14 days missed during this school year so far, the B.C. Ministry of Education is saying that school calendars will not be changed or extended in any way to make up for the lost time.
Minister of Education Peter Fassbender commented on the agreement in a press release saying “I want to thank and congratulate B.C. teachers for voting in favour of the agreement reached earlier this week between the BCTF and the BCPSEA bargaining teams.” Fassbender added “We can now focus in the path forward. This long-term agreement is an historic opportunity to work together for students – to enhance their education experience and support their achievements.”
The deal reached between the two parties will see among numerous other things, a wage increase for B.C. teachers of 7.25 per cent over the next six years.
The deal also included the creation of a committee made up of representatives from the BCTF and the government to strategize about how to best bring teachers salaries to a level that reflects those of the rest of their peers in both the private sector and across the country.
Teachers also received $105 million in regards to grievances stemming for the 2014 ruling by Justice Susan Griffin in regards to the British Columbia government’s violation of class size, composition and specialist teachers ratio which Griffin ruled was stripped unconstitutionally by the government in 2002.
School District No. 91, which operates here in Vanderhoof said in a press release that they are pleased with settlement and that students and staff can finally return to school. They also noted that they thanked parents for their patience during a trying time.