More than 41,000 B.C. teachers are staging rotating strikes starting today that will affect roughly half a million students in every public school across the province over the next few days.

Under the rotating strike schedule, the British Columbia Teachers' Federation (BCTF) has divided the province into four zones. Public elementary and high schools in every district will be closed one day each over the four days of the rotating strike. Classes will resume across the province on Friday.

B.C. teachers

Teachers at Charles Dickens Elementary School in East Vancouver prepare for a wet Monday morning on the picket line, on the first day of the B.C. teachers' provincewide rotating strike. (Steve Lus/CBC)

But it's not only teachers who will be off the job this week.

Leanne Toderian, president of CUPE Local 15, says 26,000 support workers will be respecting BCTF rotating picket lines and not be heading into work.

"Losing a day's pay is certainly going to impact our members. They understand that that is part and parcel for collective bargaining and they are certainly going to support the teachers," said Toderian.

Negotiations to resume Monday

BCTF president Jim Iker joined teachers on the picket line in Vancouver on Monday morning, before heading out to join contract negotiations scheduled to resume in the afternoon. But the two sides appear to still be far apart.

BCTF president Jim Iker on strike

BCTF president Jim Iker joined striking teachers at Charles Dickens Elementary School on Monday morning. (Farrah Merali/CBC)

Iker warns of a second wave of walkouts next week if a deal is not reached. But the government has already said teachers, whether striking or in class, risk 10 per cent salary cuts if the job action goes ahead.

The sticking points in the dispute between the teachers' union and government are pay, class size and classroom support.

Government negotiator Peter Cameron says teachers are asking for too much cash, but Iker says B.C. teachers are the second-lowest paid in the country— after P.E.I.

Google Map: School districts on strike Monday

BCTF rotating strike schedule

Monday, May 26  

  • #5 - Southeast Kootenay
  • #6 - Rocky Mountain
  • #28 - Quesnel
  • #39 - Vancouver
  • #40 - New Westminster
  • #48 - Sea to Sky
  • #49 - Central Coast
  • #59 - Peace River South
  • #62 - Sooke
  • #67 - Okanagan Skaha
  • #72 - Campbell River
  • #74 - Gold Trail
  • #75 - Mission
  • #78 - Fraser-Cascade
  • #82 - Coast Mountains
  • #85 - Vancouver Island North
  • #87 – Stikine

Tuesday, May 27 

  • #10 - Arrow Lakes.
  • #19 - Revelstoke.
  • #20 - Kootenay-Columbia.
  • #23 - Central Okanagan.
  • #27 - Cariboo-Chilcotin.
  • #35 - Langley.
  • #38 - Richmond.
  • #42 - Maple Ridge.
  • #52 - Prince Rupert.
  • #54 - Bulkley Valley.
  • #63 - Saanich.
  • #68 - Nanaimo.
  • #70 - Alberni.
  • #81 - Fort Nelson.
  • #83 - North Okanagan-Shuswap.

Wednesday, May 28 

  •  #8 - Kootenay Lake.
  •  #34 - Abbotsford.
  • #37 - Delta.
  • #43 - Coquitlam.
  • #47 - Powell River.
  • #50 - Haida Gwaii.
  • #51 - Boundary.
  • #53 - Okanagan Similkameen.
  • #60 - Peace River North.
  •  #61 - Greater Victoria.
  •  #69 - Qualicum.
  •  #73 - Kamloops Thompson.
  •  #84 - Vancouver Island West.
  •  #91 - Nechako Lakes.
  •  #92 - Nisga’a.

Thursday May, 29 

  •  #22 - Vernon.
  •  #33 - Chilliwack.
  •  #36 - Surrey.
  •  #41 - Burnaby.
  •  #44 - North Vancouver.
  •  #45 - West Vancouver.
  •  #46 - Sunshine Coast.
  •  #57 - Prince George.
  •  #58 - Nicola Similkameen.
  •  #64 - Gulf Islands.
  •  #71 - Comox.
  •  #79 - Cowichan Valley.

School District #93 (Conseil Scolaire Francophone) schools will be closed with others in their local communities throughout the week.

With files from Canadian Press