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Teachers' strike won't impact Chilliwack preschools and daycares

Watson elementary teachers and CUPE members wave to supportive drivers in front of the school Thursday morning during the rotating strike, which will hit Chilliwack again June 3. - Paul J. Henderson
Watson elementary teachers and CUPE members wave to supportive drivers in front of the school Thursday morning during the rotating strike, which will hit Chilliwack again June 3.
— image credit: Paul J. Henderson

Parents of children who attend daycares and preschools on School District 33 property will breathe a sigh of relief as those programs will continue next week even if the full-scale teachers' strike goes ahead.

The district reversed its original decision to order daycares and preschools to stay closed during strike days, but even in doing so, confusion lingered.

At its June 10 meeting, the school board approved a resolution that daycares and preschools could remain open on days of teacher strike action.

This is a reversal of a May 23 order by superintendent Evelyn Novak that said all non-school district activities were cancelled for the rotating strike days.

But in the notice about this week's reversal sent to operators of preschools and daycares, Novak said the BC Teachers' Federation (BCTF) had allowed daycares to stay open, but that the union did not provide opportunities for preschools.

Preschools—such as A is for Apple at McCammon traditional, Wind & Tide Preschool at Evans elementary, and Global Montessori at Watson elementary—were told by Novak to make a special application to the Labour Relations Board and forward the approved application to the school district office.

Further confusion for parents and operators.

But Chilliwack Teachers Association president Clint Johnston said the union is frustrated by the board's actions, and that Novak has put the preschool closures on the union's shoulders.

"We never intended to picket them out," Johnston told the Times Friday. "It was a decision by the board."

Johnston said there may be some awkwardness next week as private preschool teachers and parents cross picket lines to utilize the rented space in schools, the striking teachers won't stop them.

"We just don't feel that us denying that access is the right thing to do," Johnston said.

Kathy Antonio, owner of A is For Apple Daycare Centre, which operates out of McCammon, didn't understand why the initial decision was made given her clients pay out of pocket.

She just happens to lease space in a district facility.

Antonio stayed open on May 29 anyway and faced the repercussions.

Novak said the initial decision was made because there would be no caretakers to clean rooms, a response Johnston found odd since that still hasn't been resolved with the board's reversal.

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