What will graduation in Saskatchewan look like after the teacher job action?

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The month of June is usually a cheerful time for many students. because it marks the end of a school year. But for graduating students, this milestone is of great importance.

Vivek Nrusimhadevar, a Grade 12 student at Aden Bowman Collegiate, said he would feel like something is missing if graduation ceremonies are halted.

“If you think about our class, when we came in, it was (during) COVID. Grade 11 was actually our only normal year. Now, in grade 12, there have been job actions and we are facing sanctions at the time of graduation,” he said.

“I feel that kind of reflection on my high school experience, it would be disappointing to miss that.”

On June 5, the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation (STF) announced that teachers in the province will begin work-to-rule work actions starting Monday after rejecting binding arbitration with the province.

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This jobs action jeopardizes field trips and graduation ceremonies for students across Saskatchewan. STF president Samantha Becotte said they have heard from the ministry that plans are in place to ensure the graduation ceremonies go ahead.

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“We have told our members that within these sanctions, teachers will not support the planning or facilitation of graduation events,” Becotte said. “There is a way to prevent all of this, and that is to get back to the table and come to an agreement where we will see real improvements to classrooms in September.”

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Education Minister Jeremy Cockrill said it is frustrating to know that sanctions will be in place again on Monday. Discussions will soon take place with the county and school divisions that cannot host graduation events this year due to sanctions imposed.

“We have been working with all 27 school divisions over the past several months to ensure they are ready to move forward with graduation events,” he said.

“There are a small handful of school divisions that have expressed concerns about their ability to make these events happen … we’re going to have that discussion again today or tomorrow with the divisions about how we can support them in terms of the graduation events.”

Minister Cockrill said 24 of the 27 school divisions said they would have no problem conducting the graduation ceremony.

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Becotte said STF wants to ensure they have the best plans in place now so they can be implemented in September.

“That means we need to get back to the negotiating table, and in good faith, all the sanctions that are now being announced can be withdrawn,” she said.

“I would like to be able to withdraw them before Monday if the government were prepared to negotiate some of those real solutions before then. But that’s up to them.”

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