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Sask. teachers begin two-day withdrawal of extracurricular support

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Teachers were back in school on Thursday, but Wednesday’s provincewide strike has given way to a two-day withdrawal of extracurricular supports.

The two days represent a fraction of the hundreds of hours teachers across the province dedicate to extracurricular activities.

“You might get one day off in a year, in some school divisions three or four days in lieu of hundreds of hours,” said Don Laing, a retired teacher who took part in Wednesday’s demonstration at the Legislative Building.

The latest round of job action has put hundreds of school activities like Hoopla, Skills Canada’s provincial high school competition and the Regina Downtowner’s Optimist Band Festival into the spotlight.

"We would ask parents to join us in asking the STF union to return to the bargaining table, let's find an agreement that's good for teachers and good for Saskatchewan residents,” Premier Scott Moe said Wednesday. “Let's get our teachers back to the classroom and let's let the kids play.”

“We're saying let the kids learn,” Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation President Samantha Becotte countered. “We want kids to be well-supported in their classrooms and they care more about a basketball tournament than they do about the education of a generation of kids; 200,000 kids are in our schools, and their needs are being ignored."

Teachers have been without a contract since August 2023, a dispute that hinges largely on classroom size and complexity.

Laing recognizes that the current landscape in education has made it more difficult for teachers to be involved.

“We just need more teachers, and with this [contract] process, we’re not going to get more teachers going into extra curr,” he said.

That’s in contrast to the 32 year period where Laing was teaching, when more teachers were available per student. He said by extension, teachers were more available to help with extracurricular activities.

“I coached everything, volleyball, basketball, track and field, curling. You just put your hand up,” Laing said. “The kids and students I worked with and the families made me a better teacher."

Laing hopes the landscape can change to give teachers more capacity to help students both inside and outside the classroom in the future.

The STF’s withdrawal of extracurricular supports is planned to continue Friday.

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