It’s less than two weeks until the start of a new school year, which means that while children everywhere are looking forward to getting back to the structure and discipline of the classroom, parents are bemoaning the fact that their own carefree summer days are coming to an end.
Tracy S., who has two daughters aged 11 and nine, says she is “dreading” the day when school is back in session. “It’s wonderful having so much freedom over the summer. No battles about getting them ready in time for the bus, or making sure their homework is done, or that you’ve signed all the forms for the field trip on Friday.
“And don’t get me started on school lunches. There’s so much pressure on parents — and let’s be honest, it’s the moms who feel it — to provide lunches that are healthy, varied, and aesthetically pleasing. One mom I know gets up at 5 a.m. to make fresh sushi for her kids, and another has taken courses in food staging so her meals look fantastic.
“My girls love the organic quinoa salad I make them, but it is time-consuming. I like to think that the edible flowers I garnish it with are a nice touch. I saw that on Pinterest.”
School administrators, meanwhile, are looking forward to dealing with a new provincial government regulation around students’ immunization records. A statement from the BC School Principals’ Association last week said “Despite the fact that this new initiative was announced hastily in spring 2019, we received only sparse details after the school year ended, and have had no clear direction as to what will be involved or who will administer it, we are confident that since the provincial government is involved everything will go smoothly with no confusion, and there will be no additional workload for staff on the ground in our schools.”
Teachers are currently embroiled in contract negotiations, and some welcome this return to old times. “Frankly, I was kind of worried when the NDP took power in 2017,” says “Barry” (not his real name), a 25-year teaching veteran. “We [the BCTF and the BC Liberals] put a lot of time and effort into building up the acrimonious relationship we enjoyed for so many years, and it was a bit disheartening to realize that with the NDP taking power, all of that hard work might go down the drain.
“It’s good to see that things are getting back to normal, and both sides can once again return to the status quo we enjoyed for so long. Traditions are a great thing, and it’s always sad to see them go.”
School buses will soon be back on the road, and that day can’t come fast enough for Margaret T., whose husband Peter is a longtime driver.
“It’s not so bad at the start of the summer,” says Margaret, who doesn’t drive because of a medical condition. “But as we get into August, he really begins to miss driving bus. I can tell, because he starts to make me sit in the back seat, and tells me I can’t speak to him while he’s driving because it’s a distraction. It’s not so bad when we’re just going into town, but it was a bit hard when we drove to Prince George to see the grandkids.
“Yesterday he told me off because I didn’t look both ways before exiting the car. When I told him that since we were parked in our driveway at the time I felt it was safe, he threatened to report me to the school and have my riding privileges revoked.”
Custodian Betty M. is also looking forward to the students coming back, but it’s not because of the bustle and life they bring to a building that has been quiet for two months.
“I don’t see much of the kids, to be honest, because of my shift. And I appreciate being able to get to stuff during the summer that I can’t during the school year, but it’s kind of boring.
“There are no surprises, like finding an uneaten quinoa salad dumped under the stairwell. I have to say that the flowers were a nice touch, though.”