Kelowna schools cancel recess in wake of job action

Schools in Kelowna, B.C., say they will cancel outdoor recess when school resumes on Tuesday in response to job action by teachers.

Schools in Kelowna, B.C., say they will cancel outdoor recess when school resumes on Tuesday in response to job action by teachers.

The B.C. Teachers' Federation says it will stop outdoor supervision during recess, lunch hour and after school as part of limited strike action by teachers.

BCTF president Susan Lambert said outdoor supervision is now in the hands of administrators.

"And the labour relations board ordered that teachers can withdraw recess supervision and that gap will be filled by district administrative staff."

Lambert said parents should be angry if breaks are being cancelled — but that anger should not be directed at teachers.

"I think parents are quite well aware of the situation in schools," she said.

Hugh Gloster, the superintendent of School District 23 in the Okanagan, said kids will now have to stay indoors during breaks.

"It's not that they will not get a break, it's just that there will not be a period where the instruction process ends and students are dismissed out onto the playground."

Gloster said school will also end 15 minutes early for all students in the district.

It's not clear how many districts will follow Kelowna's lead, but officials in Vancouver and Surrey say they have made arrangement to cover off breaks and they have no plans to cancel recess when school reopens.

"The productivity of the employees — of the managers and others who are doing the supervision — will be affected," said Doug Strachan with the Surrey School District.

On Wednesday, B.C. teachers gave 72-hour strike notice for Sept. 6, the first day of school. The province's 41,000 teachers will abandon administrative duties, like filling out report cards and meeting with principals, unless an agreement is reached with the province.

The BCTF has said it won't rule out an all-out strike but is hoping a new agreement can be reached before then.

The province has said it would consider legislating teachers back to work if they walk off the job.

The main sticking points in the bargaining process are class sizes, benefits and wage increases.