YESTERDAY, OUT FOR my lunchtime walk, I happened to go by my neighborhood school. It was so wonderful to see groups of children running and playing together.
The air filled with their voices. “Tag your it” “Pass the ball.” “I’m the king of the castle.”
Whatever else we can say about the long year of Covid, what is certain is the outstanding job that teachers, support staff and administration have done.
A year ago, they didn’t know they would be responsible to deliver online schooling. They didn’t know there would be protocols, social distancing, masking and extra cleaning. Or supporting students both face-to-face and at home self-isolating.
The joy of listening to kids playing in a school playground was double for me knowing all the work that has been put in place to make it possible.
It’s been a year of good work by teachers and others in the Kamloops/Thompson School District.
But it hasn’t been without a price.
When I talk to teachers, their voices are tired. They’ve done what needed to be done. They continue to put in the extra hours.
While many of us can work in isolation at home, teachers and others are on the frontline every day facing hundreds of students in their schools. It’s been a long year, and they’re tired.
It’s only the beginning of February, and all they have to look forward to is a one week spring break in March. Twelve long months of Covid, and a one week spring break.
Kamloops/Thompson School District is just one of a handful (with Vancouver Island North, Campbell River and Bulkley Valley by my last record) of public school districts in B.C. who have a one-week spring break. All the others have a two-week break.
Kamloops/Thompson had a two-week break until 2018. But it wasn’t in the collective agreements for teachers and others. In 2018, the district returned to one-week breaks pending negotiating a new contract with the teachers and others.
The district did offer to add a second week to spring break if teachers gave up five days of Pro-D. Generous indeed.
The teachers I know have taken on a huge amount of additional work because of COVID. Telling someone they can have five days off by using their own time to do it is anything but generous.
We’re all tired. A year in, we all feel the COVID fatigue. And there are many more months of COVID ahead.
Listening to kids play in a school playground gives me hope that we’ll get our energy back. But for now, we need our teachers to have energy to support our kids as well.
It’s time for us to support teachers and other school staff and tell Thompson/Kamloops to join almost every other district in the province.
For this year, tell Thompson/Kamloops School District to give the kids, teachers, support staff and others a two-week spring break.
Nancy Bepple is a former City councillor of Kamloops with a strong interest in community building projects.