04/22/2014 11:33 EDT | Updated 06/22/2014 05:59 EDT

Some B.C. schools cancel recess as teachers' job action starts

Tomorrow, teachers across British Columbia will stop carrying out tasks and duties considered "non-essential" by the B.C. Labour Relations Board, and that means recess will be cancelled for some students.

BC Teachers' Federation president Jim Iker said six school districts have plans to cancel recess tomorrow when the phase-one action begins.

"We don't think that's fair to the students, that they'll be cancelling recess," he said. "Some of the cancellations are without even first talking with the [union] local about whether administration can even do the coverage, and we find that very disappointing."

In some cases, cancelling recess could mean the school day is shortened by 15 minutes.

Iker explained that voluntary activities in which teachers are involved will continue during the first phase of the planned job action, but some teachers' duties will be left to principals, vice-principals, and other management.

"What we won't be doing is supervision, before and after school, during recess, and at lunchtime, which we don't do right now," Iker said. 

"Our expectation is that, according to the essential services legislation, excluded staff … will be picking up supervision," he said.

The withdrawal of non-essential duties is part the first stage in a multi-level strike action that was announced by the Teachers’ Federation last week.

Education Minister Peter Fassbender says there has been virtually no movement at the bargaining table. He said last week that BCTF appears to have been busier planning its strike action than resolving the labour dispute.

As of Wednesday, teachers will still be taking attendance, marking and assessing students, completing report cards, communicating with parents and participating in volunteer extracurricular activities.