District asks parents to keep kids at home on strike day

The Cowichan Valley school district is requesting that parents keep their school aged children at home next Thursday – the day that Cowichan teachers will take their part in a province-wide rotating strike to back contract demands.

Joe Rhodes, the district’s superintendent of schools, has sent out a notice about the strike.

"On Thursday, May 29, 2014, teachers in the Cowichan Valley school district will fully withdraw their services and will have picket lines at all schools and other district work sites. While schools will remain open under the supervision of school district staff, we will be unable to provide students with any instruction," he said.

"School buses will not be running. In the interest of student safety, we are requesting that parents keep their children at home on Thursday, May 29, 2014," Rhodes said.

"We sincerely hope that this dispute will be concluded quickly and that normal school operations will resume as soon as possible. In the meantime, we will do our utmost to keep you informed in a timely manner," Rhodes said. "Listen to local media, go to www.sd79.bc.ca, contact your child’s school or contact the board office at 250-748-0321 for updates."

Meanwhile, provincially, the dispute between the BC Teachers’ Federation and the provincial government heated up even more late this week, with publication of a letter from the BC Public School Employers Association that outlined plans for a two-day lockout of secondary school teachers that will take place June 25-26, followed by a one-day provincial lockout of all teachers June 27.

This move could affect grad celebration and year-end events throughout B.C. and is certainly on a collision course with grad celebrations at Cowichan Secondary and Frances Kelsey Secondary.

The BCPSEA letter then says those lockouts will be cancelled if the BCTF agrees to ratify the current proposed deal prior to June 25. A settlement bonus of $1,200 also remains on the table should an agreement be reached and ratified by the end of June.