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'A chaotic end of term': Sask. gov't, teachers unlikely to reach deal before summer, expert says

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In what continues to be quite a lengthy battle between the Saskatchewan Teacher’s Federation (STF) and the provincial government, it appears as though an agreement will not be reached by the end of the school year.

“For a lot of parents, students and teachers, they’re going to be really inconvenienced for the next week and a half or two weeks or so,” explained Charles Smith, who works as an associate professor of political studies at the University of Saskatchewan.

Teachers rejected a tentative agreement following a vote in late May. The proposed deal had the approval of both the Government Trustee Bargaining Committee (GTBC) and the STF’s leadership.

Teachers province-wide have now reinstated “work to rule” job action. The move means extracurricular activities will be halted for the remainder of the school year.

“I think it means a bit of a chaotic end of term. I think you’ll probably see some cancellations of things like end of year band concerts, any final tournaments,” Smith said.

“Graduation is a bit different from my understanding, a lot of it is done outside of the school by volunteers and so [it’s] likely that will go ahead.”

Which is luckily the case for many grade twelve students in Regina who did not have the opportunity for an elementary school graduation thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In spite of uncertainty throughout the school year, the graduating class of 2024 will get their opportunity to celebrate, including Grade 12 student Cohen Sim.

“We had this in Grade 8 and it feels the exact same, I’m just glad we get a graduation this year,” Sim said.

But it isn’t just extracurriculars that are being affected by this job action as the end of the semester draws near.

“We’re doing absolutely nothing. The teachers can’t really help us with our school work anymore because they’re not allowed to help outside of school hours,” Sim explained. “It’s kinda affecting a lot of students that don’t have their grades up because they can’t even talk to the teachers outside of their class hours.”

Class schedules vary from one school to another. However, it is now mandatory that students leave the building over the lunch hour, and are not permitted in the building before or after the designated class times.

This lengthy bargaining process has left many frustrated, as Smith explains the future is uncertain for everyone involved.

“The elephant in the room in all of this is that in October we’re scheduled to have a provincial election,” Smith said.

“Education is the second largest provincial expenditure in the budget.”

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