Teachers rally outside Delta schools
Classes were canceled Monday (March 5) as teachers in all 34 Delta public schools joined in a province-wide strike.
The action follows a vote in which B.C. teachers voted 87 per cent in favour of escalating job action from the limited "teach only" campaign that began last September.
The Labour Relations Board gave teachers the green light to withdraw services for up to three consecutive days this week.
Although teachers will not be instructing, they have agreed not to picket schools. Maintenance personnel, clerical workers and support staff will be able to report for work.
The Delta School District did not receive reports of any children showing up for school on the first day of the walkout.
"We haven't heard of any students that have come in," said the district's manager of communications Deneka Michaud.
Superintendent Dianne Turner wrote a letter last week encouraging parents not to send their kids to school on strike days as there are not enough staff to provide adequate supervision or instruction.
If students do turn up to school Tuesday or Wednesday, Michaud says school staff will contact their parents and encourage them to take their children home.
If parents cannot be reached, Michaud says the students will be supervised by the principal or vice-principal.
"We're obviously encouraging parents to keep their kids home or find other childcare arrangements," she said.
On Monday, teachers gathered outside Delta schools, distributing leaflets and talking to the public.
They were protesting the back-to-work legislation introduced last week by Education Minister George Abbott. The legislation imposes a six-month "cooling off period" and sets up appointment of a mediator to look at non-monetary issues such as class size and composition.
In a press release, the Delta Teachers' Association stated the legislation freezes teachers' wages for two years and limits teachers' ability to make professional decisions.
"The government calls this a ‘cooling off’ period," said DTA president, Paul Steer. "In fact, if you read the bill, it dictates further cuts and makes things worse for teachers and students."
It is expected classes will resume Thursday (March 8).
Check back at southdeltaleadser.com for the latest in local coverage of the B.C. teachers' strike.