By 3:30 p.m. on Monday, the school-week routine was well underway at Clinton Public School. The buzzer sounded for students to be released and they spiralled down the staircase. Spilling onto the playground, they shrieked as basketballs and jump ropes counted the beats until their parents or guardians picked them up. But the routine wouldn’t last long, as it was due to be interrupted on Tuesday by a one-day teacher’s strike.
Seven-year-old Kalum’s response to this news was gleeful. “Good, good, good,” he chanted as Julie Keddy picked him up from his grade 1 class to go to the offsite daycare she runs. Keddy offered a more conflicted view: “I don’t really agree with striking, but I do think they need to fight for their rights to negotiate their contract.” She anticipated getting last-minute phone calls that night from parents needing supervision for their kids during school hours the next day.
As parents picked up kids who showed off the day’s arts and crafts project (a large paper snowflake), they shared their plans for “Super Tuesday”: Some would spend the time with grandma and grandpa, while others would have an all-day play date at a friend’s house.
Despite the inconvenience, few parents blamed the teachers, and many criticized the provincial government for not working more co-operatively. “I feel stuck in the middle,” said frustrated mother Christine, who was picking up her six-year-old son, Niko. “The system is broken… There has to be a third way we’re not seeing. The same old things just aren’t working.”