STF announces withdrawal of all extracurricular activities for Monday

Elementary and high school sports, drama, and band will all be on hold for one day after the STF announced a withdrawal of all extracurricular activities on Monday.

The Saskatchewan Teachers Federation (STF) announced the one-day job action on Friday.

All extracurricular activities that take place before school, during lunch hour, after school and in the evening will be impacted. The list includes science clubs, intramurals, rehearsals, student leadership activities, planning for graduation celebrations, and bookfairs.”

“As I've said before teachers do not want to be taking any action that impacts student learning or any other school activity but we need to know that students will start to receive the supports that they deserve and need,” STF President Samantha Becotte told reporters during a zoom news conference on Friday morning.

Monday, Feb. 26 will also see the continuation of rotating noon-hour supervision withdrawals. Prince Albert is not one of the areas impacted.

Withdrawal of noon-hour supervision means teachers will not be available to supervise students who are eating lunch at school or taking part in noon-hour activities. Teachers will not be available to supervise students who are eating lunch at school or taking part in noon-hour activities. Schools impacted by that sanction include those within the Northern Area Teachers’ Association, Northwest Teachers’ Association, Prairie South Teachers’ Association, Saskatoon Teachers’ Association, and Tri-West Teachers’ Association.

Becotte repeated calls for the government-trustee bargaining committee (GTBC) to start to “get serious. and return to the bargaining table ready to negotiate the “real issues” impacting students.

Asked if she felt the job action — one-day strikes, and withdrawal of service — would work in the long-term given the recent renewed mandate presented by the GTBC, Becotte said “Otherwise we wouldn’t be taking the actions.”

“This government has the ability to pay, (and) they have the ability to ensure that students are getting the supports that they need in classrooms all across the province,” Becotte said.

“They just need the political will, and a lot of that political will often comes from public pressure.”

Becotte also reiterated arguments that including classroom complexity in bargaining agreements was common.

"As we've heard from other provincial leaders in other areas of the country they can be negotiated in a provincial agreement,” Becotte said referring to her Monday press availability.

"I would then ask government and SSBA, if we're not making those commitments in a provincial agreement where are those commitments going to be made where government accountable for the funding and school boards can be accountable to ensuring that the funds are directed to supporting students and classrooms and where it guarantees that those funds are going to continue in the long term to provide predictable and sustainable funding. That's exactly what SSBA has regularly communicated about in their advocacy the need for predictable and sustainable funding,”

This week, the province said it has extended multiple invitations to get back to the bargaining table, including one Wednesday morning, but the union hasn’t responded.

“We did communicate that to the GBTC that until they have the authority to engage in

negotiations around classroom complexity, we would be declining their invitation that they had sent last week,” Becotte said.

The union has been clear it will only return to negotiations if the GTBC comes back with a new mandate that includes the ability to address classroom complexity and composition, which includes violence.

Becotte reiterated that all options remain on the table, as they have done various job actions since the beginning of February.

“It doesn't mean that we're not going to have a return of some of those previous actions and it doesn't prevent any future announcements as well,” she said.

"As I've said, our goal is to get back to the table. Our goal is to ensure that students start getting the supports that they need in classrooms so that both students and teachers can be successful in in schools in all areas of the province.

“We are committed to going to the table and negotiating in good faith. That has been our stance throughout the entire process. We really have no other way other than to apply sanction action to move this process forward,”

Parents and caregivers are invited to attend a Parent and Caregiver Information Night being offered virtually through Zoom at 7 p.m. on Monday, February 26. Becotte will provide information about the status of contract negotiations and teacher job action as part of this virtual event. Space is limited to 5,000 registrants, and registration is available on the STF website.

michael.oleksyn@paherald.sk.ca

Michael Oleksyn, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Prince Albert Daily Herald