Guest students seeing the region

Internationals arrive for school year; School District 5 providing activities as teachers strike drags on

The prolonged start of the school year has been a headache for parents and kids who would normally be attending the second week of classes.

It’s also been a problem for international students who have arrived for the planned start of the school year, but have found themselves without classes to attend.

To remedy that, the international program for School District 5 has been keeping the students busy with activities in the region.

Martin Ross, District Development Officer for SD5, said there are 72 international students in Cranbrook, Sparwood and Fernie, who arrived for school last week.

“We’re providing activities for them, virtually everyday,” Ross said. “Last Friday we were river rafting. Next weekend we’re going to Banff. So lots of cool things.”

He said the activities are a sort of contingency plan while the provincial government and the B.C. Teachers’ Federation continue to negotiate.

“Obviously if class was in session we wouldn’t be offering those activities,” he said.  “I think that they really enjoy those activities, but I don’t think there’s any question that they’d like to be in school as well.”

Of the 72 students, 53 are attending schools in Cranbrook.

The students come from Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and Libya.

Ross said the suggestion of a longer school year that would continue into the summer would likely cause problems for the international students.

“One of the things that we need to keep in mind is many of the kids already have flights booked, and so any changes to the school calendar would have an impact for sure,” he said. “Whether that’s a big impact or not I don’t know. Any change like that would affect anyone, whether they are Canadian or international.”

But Ross said they have a wonderful group of kids this year and they are looking at a great year ahead.

“We certainly appreciate our host families’ and students’ flexibility as we work through the challenges of not having school in session,” he said. “It will all sort our eventually.”

British Columbia’s 40,000 teachers went on strike two weeks before the summer break. Bargaining has stalled on pay, class size and levels for support staff.