Parents with children in secondary school in the Saanich school district received several letters this week – from the district and their school principles – regarding the strike’s effect on graduation requirements and post-secondary applications.
Students in School District 63 (SD63) have been out of school have been out of school for three weeks now as the CUPE Local 441 strike continues and some parents are have grown concerned.
SD63 parent Lisa Hopkins isn’t choosing a side in the strike, but she feels it’s unfair for the children to be affected by adult issues. In an open letter sent to all strike stakeholders on Nov. 15, Hopkins cited the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and emphasized that it’s a child’s right to go to school.
On Nov. 12, superintendent of schools Dave Eberwein penned a letter to parents addressing the impacts the strike may have on students. He emphasized that the strike will not prevent students from graduating or moving to the next grade and that grade 12 students’ applications to universities would not be affected.
Hopkins isn’t convinced. Her daughter is in Grade 11 at Claremont Secondary but takes several Grade 12 classes and has been feeling stressed.
In the first week of the strike, her daughter – who has experience three strikes during her schooling – schoolwork to do, but now she’s not sure how to proceed, said Hopkins. She also worries about students who are taking AP classes as their exams are standardized and she feels they’ll be at a disadvantage after losing class time.
In the Nov. 12 letter to parents, Eberwein also noted that individual schools would update secondary school parents and on Wednesday Claremont Secondary parents received a letter saying the strike was an “excellent” opportunity to work on university applications, make educational and financial plans, complete volunteer hours, review coursework and look for online learning opportunities.
Hopkins feels it’s unfair to put the onus on students and ask them to seek out education.
“How are we parents suppose to deal with this ongoing strike and expect our children to pick up the slack from the adults who are putting them in this position?” she asked in her open letter.
Hopkins’ daughter has talked about registering at a school in another district so that she wouldn’t be behind. While her daughter is old enough to understand the strike, Hopkins feels for the parents of little kids who may be sad about missing their classmates and teachers.
Talks between CUPE Local 441 and the District have been on and off and Hopkins said parents and students are getting frustrated.
“It’s too long for the kids and parents,” she said, “and I’m sure the people on the picket line are wanting it to be done.”
She closed the letter by asking that kids be back in school by Monday, Nov. 18.
Eberwein said the district is ready to get back to the table and CUPE Local 441 president Dean Coates is “cautiously optimistic” that a resolution could be reached over the weekend.
With files from Nina Grossman.