Options for parents as schools shut

Community centres and neighbourhood houses attempt to fill void

Parents likely won’t hear from the Vancouver School Board until this Friday, Aug. 29, whether classes will start as scheduled next Tuesday, Sept. 2.

That’s what the VSB’s superintendent Steve Cardwell told parents and caregivers in a letter dated Aug. 20.

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The B.C. Teachers’ Federation and the B.C. Public Schools Employers’ Association haven’t been able to agree on a new contract. Vancouver teachers resumed picketing Aug. 26.

So what are parents and children to do? Here’s an updated list:

Community Centres

Some community centres offered day camps after teachers launched a full-scale strike in June in response to having their work curtailed and pay docked 10 per cent.

Now Hastings Community Centre is planning to offer a day camp from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for children who would be in Grade 1 to age 12, for a fee of $25 a day. Children would be registered for the 20 spaces day-by-day. Information should be online by Aug. 29.

For more information about Hastings and other community centres, see vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture.

Boys and Girls Clubs

Three clubs in Vancouver operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C. will offer day camps should public schools be closed.

Carolyn Tuckwell, president and CEO of the Boys and Girls Clubs of South Coast B.C., said families already involved with clubs will get “first dibs” on spaces in September. “It’s not to say that parents from other communities wouldn’t be able to get their kids in,” Tuckwell said.

Camp hours vary by club but are set to accommodate parents dropping off children before and after work. Fees would range from $20 to $30 a day.

“We have a policy that no one’s ever turned away because of an inability to pay,” Tuckwell said.

The camps would accommodate children and youth aged 6 to 17. Teenagers can also volunteer.

For more information, click on “Clubs” at bgcbc.ca.

Neighbourhood Houses

Neighbourhood houses are planning to offer additional childcare in September if need be. Sharon Gregson, director of child and family development services for Collingwood Neighbourhood House, told the Courier Friday that the local teachers’ association has said Collingwood Neighbourhood House staff and families can access childcare that’s offered at schools.

Neighbourhood houses that belong to the Association of Neighbourhood Houses B.C. can be found at anhbc.org/.

Science World

Science World will run weeklong camps Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Sept. 8 if students aren’t in public schools. Science World will offer 16 spots in the kindergarten camp and 24 in both the primary and intermediate camps. Fees are $250 plus tax for Science World members, $275 plus tax for the general public. Parents will be refunded if school resumes before camp starts. If school resumes in the middle of a camp week, free passes will be given to each registrant per day cancelled. For more information, see scienceworld.ca.

YMCA

The Courier reported Aug. 22 the YMCA of Greater Vancouver is adding names to its “just in case” waitlist for Strike Camps that would accommodate children aged 5 to 12 and run 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Kelly Walker, manager of marketing and communications for the Y said Tuesday morning that more than 1,000 children were waitlisted for up to 1,200 spaces across the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, with space available only in Gibsons and Chilliwack. Walker said the Y is focused on securing locations and staff and being on the waitlist doesn’t guarantee a place. The YMCA is to notify parents about spots late this week. Camps are $15 a day for YMCA members, $30 a day for non-members at YMCA centres, with different prices at the Y’s other licensed childcare locations.

Craigslist

Ads for childcare, day camps and tutoring during the strike are popping up on Craigslist.

For updates regarding the VSB and job action, see vsb.bc.ca and the Courier's website for updated childcare and day camp options.

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